Kickin’ Up Dust

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, July 26, 2014 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

When I use my weed whacker, or weed eater depending on what you may call it, I kick up all kinds of stuff. Grass, dirt, dust, rock, weeds; you name it, it goes flying. And often times it goes flying right at my shins. Now apart from the abrasions and cuts I get, most of the time I come in from using my weed whacker covered in a mixture of plant material and dirt. It clings to me, and only a shower will remove the coating that has been bonded to my skin at high speeds.

If only I could live my life following Jesus with that level of intensity. I mean, of course I could do without the scrapes and bruises from the rocks, but what would it be like to just be completely covered in the kinds of skills and character that Jesus demonstrates?

An old Hebrew blessing said, “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.” Sounds odd right? Well, consider this. Disciples, or followers, of a rabbi, don’t have the goal to just learn something from the rabbi. They are not called students, and with good reason. It isn’t enough to know what the rabbi knew, or say what the rabbi said. True disciples want to BE who the rabbi IS. So they follow the rabbi everywhere and as closely as possible. They learn how he prays, when he prays, where he prays, and watch every movement he makes. Their imitation and learning goes so much deeper. They desire to be so saturated in the way the rabbi follows God, that it becomes second nature – or rather first nature – to them. There is no higher compliment to a disciple, than to tell them they look just like their rabbi.

Is it any wonder then that Jesus said what he did in Luke 14:25-27? “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.’” Think about it, how could a disciple be like his rabbi, if he had any other concern or motive that meant more to him than being like his rabbi? Jesus goes so far as to say, “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple.”

Now I have always had the literal picture pop into my head when I read that verse – me carrying some big hunk of wood up a hill, while being jeered at, falling, etc. I read that statement and think Jesus is throwing down the gauntlet to see if I could get up the hill with the same hunk of wood he carried. But that is not at all what Jesus is saying.

The word he uses is “stauros” in the Greek language, which means “cross,” but it uses “cross” as a picture of what it looks like to suffer until you die. The cross or crucifixion was a gruesome way to die, the Romans made sure of it. Ultimately a crucified person would suffocate under the weight of their own body hanging from the cross.

So what is Jesus really saying it takes to be his disciples? We have to be willing to die to ourselves, die to our desires, and if necessary even die for what we believe. Dying to ourselves and our desires is hard enough. It demands a complete exchange of our desires and priorities, from ours over to God’s. That is what it means to give your life to Jesus Christ and become a follower. Jesus is not an “add on” that we just plug into to help us be “spiritual.” We cannot have Jesus, we cannot walk with Jesus, if we are not willing to jettison our self-made way of living in order to live his way. Symbolically that is what we do when we are baptized – declare that we are dead to our self-willed life (dead in Christ), and alive to God’s way of living (raised to life).

Jesus’ statement goes farther than just “getting saved” or “accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.” By using the cross as a symbol of suffering and death, Jesus is saying we need to be willing to give up our physical life, like he did. So if we are confronted with a choice to deny Jesus in order to live, as a disciple we could not deny the one we most want to be like. The choice would be simple – or should be, but we know it’s not.

You know, even being a martyr for your faith can sometimes be easier than being a disciple of Jesus. Once someone is martyred, they are dead and no longer concerned or burdened by the struggle to live like Jesus. How much harder is it to remain alive, and daily live for Jesus and die to self?

The world is changing, but for now, most of us will have the difficult task of choosing daily – live Jesus’ life and his way, or our own. Which did you choose today so far? What desires or choices do you have to make today that may show who you really follow? Do you look like you in a Jesus mask, or do you authentically look like Jesus?