Briercrest Chapel: The Kingdom and the Cross
Happy Monday, everyone! This is the last week of exams for most of us and, consequently, the last week for our chapel blog. I hope you have enjoyed reading, listening, and watching the content as much as I have enjoyed making it.
There is discussion about releasing more of this kind of thing throughout the summer, so make sure you hit me with some feedback about what you liked! But for now, let’s just settle into our normal weekly rhythm. You can watch the live video from Monday morning below, and you can find all the blogs, podcasts, and videos from previous weeks here.
A word from C.S. Lewis
Over the course of this pandemic, a popular little quote from C.S Lewis has been circulating. (You've probably seen it, but if you haven't yet you should check this out.)
I won’t be breaking down his words and evaluating them here, but one particular quote caught my interest:
“It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty” (Lewis, 1946).
The truth of this line resonated with me. None of us can avoid death—it is a certainty. I think that should shape how we live, especially as Christians, who are called not to cling to their lives, but to lay them down.
Today’s passage: Luke 9:23-27
I apologize for returning to the ‘cross’ theme in the Easter season, but I always intended to end our year together looking at Jesus’s call for us to lay down our lives. Let’s read together.
“Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.
What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.’”
Jesus gives three parallel instructions for those who want to be his disciples: deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow.
The instruction to pick up our cross is one of the most intense images for what it means to be a follower of Christ. By going to the cross, Jesus modeled what total submission to God looks like—a submission that his followers must emulate. If we want to follow Jesus, we must lay down our lives.
But that little addition, ‘daily’, suggests that this isn’t merely a one-time event or a physical sacrifice of our body. Not all of us will be literally martyred for our faith (many have!), but we will all literally lay down our lives if we want to follow Jesus.
This looks like laying down our own ambitions, goals, and plans for our lives; laying down our desire for comfort, ease, and security; and laying down our vision for what life should look like, choosing instead to embrace God’s call and plan for our lives.
Sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? It is! Remember what we talked about last week: Jesus himself had a moment where he prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” But, as our perfect example he chose to say, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
But Jesus also offers this encouragement: it is the one who lays down their life that will receive it. A moment later Jesus adds that there are those in their midst who will not taste death until they see the Kingdom. True, full, and abundant life does not come from grasping at it like the nations do; it comes from submitting to our King. And if we do this, we will get to see God’s Kingdom breaking in.
If we want to gain life—if we want to see Christ’s Kingdom shining into our world—then we need to lay down our lives before the Lord. We need to submit to his will and way for us. There is no other way to life.
Where do we start?
As you make plans for the summer, next year, or, for some of us, the next stage of life, let’s be found on our knees praying that God’s will would be done in our lives. Let’s surrender our goals, ambitions, and desires to his wonderful plan. If we do this, we’ll find the life that he has for us.
I think it can be particularly hard (1) to lay aside a particular view of one’s life and how it is going to play out, or (2) to pick up a particularly intimidating or difficult task the Lord is calling us to.
If in prayer you find yourself in either of these places, hear this call to lay down your life. If we want to follow Christ, nothing in our lives can be ‘off-limits’ (“I’ll go anywhere but there; I’ll give up anything but this; I’ll do anything but that”).
Be ready to do whatever God calls you to do. Pick up your cross and follow. It is the way to life.
Go in peace to love and serve the LORD!
Scripture to read together this week:
- Luke 9 and 14
- Exodus 3
- 1 Kings 19
- Isaiah 6
- Romans 12
This week's podcasts:
- Tuesday: Briercrest Chapel: The Cost of Discipleship
- Wednesday: Briercrest Chapel: Sell Everything for This Treasure and "What is the Kingdom Gospel?" document
- Thursday: "Let's Talk Theology: Predestination and the Sovereignty of God (Live Q&A)" audio recording
Please note that we’re experiencing podcast looping issues in Safari and we’ve confirmed that this is an iOS issue. We recommend that iOS users open podcast links in a different browser, or download podcast audio directly to their devices.
Let's Talk Theology: Predestination and the Sovereignty of God (Live Q&A)
This week’s prayer requests:
- Prayers for the vulnerable communities across the world. The elderly, children, sick, poor. — Bryton Codd
- My sister’s friend’s baby is very sick from COVID-19 cause of a doctor. She might lose her son Emmett. — Regan Winsley
- Former student! I feel God calling me somewhere, and I desperately need His provisions to go. — Nikki
- Just to finish school honestly. And for motivation, cause I have none. — Daelynn Meier
- For all students and staff who may feel lonely during this time. Especially the ones who may be living alone and may feel even more isolated. — Travis Molzan
- That we would continue to actively seek to make disciples of all the nations. This is such a beautiful opportunity to spread the gospel to people confused and hurt it would be robbery to not take advantage of it all!!! — Will Dmytrow
- That Jesus would bring renewal throughout the earth! — Caleb Brown
- The many summer camps wrestling with what they will do if [COVID-19] continues! — Adam McNeil
- For the students coming next year to be ready and willing to serve and learn. — Emily Thomas
- When the Church suffers, giving is lessened and missionaries seriously struggle. — Faith Fink
A simple way to serve this season:
- Our Student Government Outreach Coordinator, Will Dmytrow, created a template for offering help to people who are self-isolating and in need of some assistance. This is a great opportunity to take part in the Kingdom among us by serving the weaker. You can download the template here.