It’s easy to become so familiar with our religion that we forget what an enormous challenge is thrown down to anyone who really want to be a follower of Christ. We can wear the practice of our faith like an old pair of slippers and never notice bow battered they have become.

Being a Christin is not the obvious choice. Ask the audience. Only a small percentage would think it’s a sensible lifestyle. Phone a friend, but make sure he or she really has heard what Christ is asking. There’s more than a fifty-fifty chance that it will look stupid.

Choosing to be a disciple means sharing the daily shame of the cross. It’s not about living the cushy existence. It’s about rejoicing at being the bottom of the pile. In a world that prizes success the Christian glories in what looks like failure. A Christian is a permanent number two; a Christian is always last rather than first.

Trying to be a Christian is no trivial pursuit for it deals with life and death questions. Can you hack it? asks Jesus. Can you really cope with taking on the ills of the world and serving others to the point of exhaustion? Can you deal with being thoughta follower for his sake?

Is your religion more about bells and smells, stained glass and nice music? Or is it about being prepared to suffer shame, to be laughed at, to do without, to serve and not to count the cost or seek any reward apart from the satisfaction that you are trying to follow Jesus?

Christ tells us hat to follow him we must die first. To follow him we must put ourselves at others’ disposal till it hurts and expect nothing in return. Can you do this? That’s what he asked James and John. Clearly he had his doubts about them.

Christianity is not a hobby. It’s not a pastime on a par with volunteering for the local hospital’s League of Friends or joining a club. It’s a life and death series of decisions. Let’s not fall into the trap of think that  it’s normal!


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