NUTFIELD PARISH CHURCH

The Church of St Peter and St Paul

Thought for the week

25 February 2024 - How can I follow Jesus Better?

Lent is a period when we should examine ourselves deeply.  This is a good thing. This week, I spent a lot of time in educational establishments (Bletchingley Village School, Orpheus Centre, and Nutfield Primary School).  Each visit allowed me to think about Lent in a different way.  But the common thought was how could I follow Jesus better?

 

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Mark 8:34

 

The first and most fundamental question posed to us through this verse is this: Do you wish to come after Jesus?  Unless this question is answered first, the rest of what Jesus says will have no effect upon us.  So let’s look at that question.

 

Intellectually speaking, everyone reading this has most likely answered that question in the affirmative numerous times.  Each time you go to church, spend time praying, or read the bible you are, in one way or another, saying, “Yes, I want to come after You, Lord.”  Most likely, we have all even said specific prayers by which we consciously choose to follow Christ.  But we should see much more than the need to make an intellectual choice in this passage.

 

The phrase “Whoever wishes” seems to reveal even more than a decision; it also reveals a desire.  It reveals that a desire to follow Christ is not usually the first step in the process; it’s the last. 

-       The first step is to come to an understanding of the truth and to profess it. 

-       Secondly, we must do what we have chosen. 

-       Thirdly, once grace begins to work on us to transform us, we begin to “wish” or “desire” all that Jesus wants of us and all that He calls us to embrace. 

 

So what will we find ourselves “wishing” if we are following Christ with our whole being?  We will find that we desire what Jesus reveals next; namely, we will desire to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Do you desire that?

 

It’s easy to desire to love and be loved, at least on a more superficial level.  Hopefully, we all enjoy kind and caring words, both giving them and receiving them.  But the true love of Christ, following his example of love, requires a desire for selfless and sacrificial love.  This is the perfection of love!  We are called, ultimately, to love without even considering the cost or the demands that Christian love places upon us.  Or, to take it even further, we are called to love even that which is painful and difficult when it is the will of God.  His will most certainly includes acts of sacrifice.  True love, ultimately, desires even this.

 

Reflect, upon this most fundamental question.  Do you wish to come after Jesus, and therefore, are you ready and willing to embrace and even desire all that this entails? 

You make the choice; God will place the desire in your heart. 

Say “Yes” to Him and His Cross. 

In the end, you will be eternally grateful you did.

Every blessing

Father Paul

 

PS:

I would love to see you at Lent Lunch at 12:30 in St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Nutfield.

 

Perhaps do something different on Sunday afternoon. Come join me as we Walk The Way Of The Cross. 4:30 pm on Sunday Stations of the Cross in St. Mary’s Church Bletchingley.