Devotional by Stephen Estock

February 24, 2014

Back in June I was thinking about the challenges of the day and how to persuade others (I can’t bring myself to say “manipulate,” though that might be closer to the truth) to do what I want them to do so that it makes my life easier and “successful.” Then, I read the following:

“Often, the most worthwhile undertakings are the most difficult. Christians, as people of the Cross, should understand this best.” (Carolyn Arends, Christianity Today, June 2013, p. 64).

At first, I read it quickly, and missed the period after “difficult,” so that I thought it said, “Often, the most worthwhile undertakings are the most difficult Christians.”

What?! Is she crazy?! Difficult Christians are often the problem, not something to be considered worthwhile.

Then I read more closely and saw better the idols of my heart. In my pursuit of personal success and fulfillment, I tend to label people as “difficult.” They are difficult because they stand in the way of what I want to do. They stand in the way of my pursuit of personal comfort. I have to admit that I often do not act like I am one of the “people of the Cross.”

My ministry is about discipleship, which in short means “following Jesus,” and Jesus was very clear: “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:38); “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24).

Giving up “agendas” and personal comfort are hard. But the path of following Jesus is most definitely a worthwhile undertaking. The good news of the Cross is that I am no longer in bondage to the idols of my sin nature; I am not a slave to the opinions and actions of those Christians I label “difficult.” By the power of the risen Christ, following him – even in challenging circumstances – is a worthwhile endeavor.