Pope Francis: Following Jesus Requires Sacrifice

As we move into the post Christian world, we are going back to a time when the Way was indeed “narrow” and “few were chosen.”

The cheap grace of following the world in Jesus’ name is not grace at all. It is a lie we tell ourselves to keep from having to “chose this day whom” we “will serve.”

Sadly, it is also a delusion. Trendy jesus, pragmatic jesus and all the other false messiahs these theological snake-oil salesmen are selling having nothing to do with the real Jesus Christ Who was crucified on Calvary and calls each succeeding generation of Christians to “pick up your cross and follow Me.”

Following the real Jesus exacts a price. As the Light is smothered by the ever-encroaching darkness of humanity’s fealty to its own passions rather than the living God, the price for those who do not accede to the darkness goes up exponentially.

We may be willing to be friends with those who serve other gods, but they will not be friends with us. We may find our careers truncated, our friendships forfeit, our lives troubled in many ways when we follow Christ. He told us this would happen. If the world hates you, remember that it first hated me, He said.

The anger directed at us is just a side-blow, a glancing near miss of the object of the real hatred, which is satan’s hatred for the Savior of Humankind. Those who attack people for following Christ, even if they only do it with rudeness and exclusion, are the unwitting pawns of this evil.

Our task is always to be the witting servants of the good. God has no use and no desire for “unwitting pawns.” We can blunder into following satan, but we always chose to follow Christ.

Life in Christ is an intentional, moment by moment, living out of the faith. It can only be done through grace, and that grace does not come from us. There is no intelligence, courage or intuition we possess in and of ourselves that can equip us for following Jesus in a post Christian world.

The capacity to follow Him is a free gift of divine grace. He equips us to run the race that is before us if we ask Him daily and trust Him constantly. When we fail, all we have to do is reach out to Him and ask for forgiveness. That’s all there is to life in Christ: Just say “yes” to Him, and keep saying “yes” as each new challenge arises.

This is the Living Lord Who stood before Pilate, endured the blows and humiliations, hung from the cross and died. He understands everything He is asking of us because He has already endured all of it and far worse for us. He can help us on the Way as someone who has walked it Himself.

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  • Bill S

    “Those who attack people for following Christ, even if they only do it with rudeness and exclusion, are the unwitting pawns of this evil.”

    So, people like Richard Dawkins are “unwitting pawns of this evil”? That’s interesting the way you demonize people who are trying to free people from religious superstitions and prejudices, of which there are way too many.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Richard Dawkins isn’t an unwitting pawn of evil. He is a fully compliant and richly rewarded servant of evil, and he completely choose that in free will.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    In the morning, when I rise
    In the morning, when I rise
    In the morning, when I rise

    Give me Jesus.
    Give me Jesus,
    Give me Jesus.
    You can have all this world,
    Just give me Jesus.

    Love that song. A particularly fine version is recorded by Collin Raye. Not sure if it’s on youtube, but it’s worth trying to find.

  • erikcampano

    Having spent a bit of time in the post-Christian world (France, Sweden, Austria) and the industrialized non-Christian world (Japan), I’ve known many people there who have demonstrated extraordinary service and charity. They are doctors, social workers, grief counselors; they serve sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, their own homelands; and they neither hate nor exclude Christians, nor self-identify as Christians. They carry their burdens every day and use them to love, compassionately, other human beings, regardless of their religious identity. They renounce evil and choose goodness, truth, and justice. They gather in communities with a strong ethical basis, and of mutual support.

    I thus ask myself, when reading the words above, what precisely is the author calling us to do, in following Jesus? If one is already living a life of self-sacrifice and examination of conscience, then what is left, precisely? To join a Christian church? For what reason? To serve God, or perhaps to serve clergy invoking Jesus to maintain charismatic power? Does being “chosen” amount to getting some kind of psychological affirmation on behalf of Christian leadership? How is the symbolism, the practice, the doctrine, the story, the institution of Christianity a better way of modelling the human experience than whatever is motivating the goodness of these French, Swedes, Austrians, and Japanese?

    In the writing above, there’s a lot of talk of hatred, anger, and us-against-them. Ostensibly coming from a position of goodness or Godliness, it nonetheless invokes some pretty divisive emotions.

    I’m not coming from a position of strong personal agenda here. Mine are sincere responses, formed in good faith, after reading this post.

    • pagansister

      Thank you for your opinion, which comes from your experience in a very large world. I too have found(not as well traveled as you are) those that have chosen not to follow a Christian faith to behave in a manner which could be “mistaken” for those who exhibit the better traits of Christianity.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      I can no longer see the non-Christians as living a life of true self-sacrifice.

    • FW Ken

      Of course there are many people of good will in the world. I think of the Muslim woman who pulled three nuns away from an Islamist mob and gave them shelter. But about 100,000 Christians are killed annually around the world. The 20th century saw more Christian martyrs than all the centuries before it put together. In one generation the culture in America has spiraled into open contempt and hatred for Christians. Dr. Philip Jenkins has documented this well in his book on anti-Catholicism.

      So that’s the negative side of things. Despite all of it, one becomes a Christian when you see that Jesus is Lord. That he is the incarnate God. Truth is the reason to embrace Christ, whether the Cross we bear is the the tedious grind of daily life, the soft martyrdom of concern, or death. None of that matters: it’s about Jesus.

    • michicatholic

      I understand exactly what you’re saying, erik. What we’re being called
      to is most decidedly not self-righteousness, which is how this message
      is interpreted widely among Catholics as well as non-Catholics.
      Christianity involves helping others, but that’s essentially not what
      Christianity is. Christianity is becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ,
      mind soul and body as described in the Christian Gospels. This is no
      less true for Catholics than it is for any other member of any Christian
      group. This is the essence of what it is to be Christian. And it’s
      not primarily about self-righteousness any more than Jesus himself, who
      ate with sinners, was about self-righteousness.

      Any hatred you see is misplaced. Hatred is wrong.

  • FW Ken
  • kerouac

    some see theater arts as a calling.to attempt to dramatize the energies & manifestations of the power of faith is a task. Playwright Larry Myers has had a spirituality-based troupe called rwm playwrights lab…. a new endeavor is a play about just one small fragment of Pope Francis’ essence……………..the Pope is iconic symbolic perspective
    “Pope Francis Sketchbook” is only a tiny blueprint of his calling..

  • FW Ken

    Some really helpful thoughts from Cardinal Pell on religious liberty:

    http://tinyurl.com/q7z53sh

  • JohnE_o

    “We may be willing to be friends with those who serve other gods, but they will not be friends with us…”

    I’m agnostic, but I’d still be your friend, Rep. Hamilton.

    • hamiltonr

      And I would welcome your friendship.


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