I had the opportunity of being involved with the production of the Gospel of John. I remember being in the audience during TIFF and seeing the movie for the first time. Jesus was extreme. I realized from John’s perspective that is why Jesus requires extreme. Jesus is not one to go half way – it is not a lukewarm faith. If it is radical it is a radical faith of salvation, transformation, compassion, forgiveness and hope. Following Christ is everything – it is powerful and thereby, compelling – there is nothing else.
The movie made me think twice about whether or not I would have been a follower Christ if I lived during His time on earth. It takes courage to live the gospel. Technically, you live a life of dying even before you die. Courage is to move forward in hope knowing only one basic truth – whether I live or die, I am His.
That is why our past no longer defines who we are. We are made new in Christ. My identity is no longer tied to anyone I have associated myself with, nor my experiences in life that I have lived without Christ and most unnerving is that I am no longer identified by my own family. I am a follower of Christ, defined by the work I am called to do today and for my future hope.
The temptation is to disciple based on a formula or process – a project. But the person being discipled cannot count on me – they must on their own, come to a place where they renounce all for God. Looking at the hope of God’s coming reign requires us to look at it through the cross, resurrection, ascension and the power of Pentecost. Renunciation is the beginning, but the first gift is really the call and the hope for the journey.
Why do you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win a kingdom? In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind, in the cross is joy of spirit, in the cross is highest virtue, in the cross is perfect holiness. There is no salvation of soul nor hope of everlasting life but in the cross. – – Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. – Luke 14:33