“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.” – Mark 8: 34
After Jesus quizzes the disciples about who they think he is, and Peter said, “You are the Christ,” Jesus talked with them about what it really means to follow him, as opposed to what they would like it to mean.
Following me, said Jesus, means self-renunciation. According to the dictionary, self-renunciation is, “rejecting, repudiating, sacrificing, giving up your self.”
This business of self-renunciation is a tricky matter. I can think of whole lot of ways to get it wrong:
- what I want or need isn’t important
- I should always take care of others (but never myself)
- my job is to fix you, make you successful, get you sober, make you happy, etc.
- if I don’t do this, no one will
- if I can just be perfect, everything will be fine
One form of self-renunciation that feels real, if hard, important and Jesus-like, is to give up on being the grim bookkeeper working away at keeping the ledgers of life’s rights and wrongs on everyone else. Throw out the books. Close the accounts. Renounce your need to say or prove that you are right and he/ she is wrong. Renounce your intricate and truly tiresome strategies for justifying yourself or making yourself look good. Give it up to Jesus by whose grace alone you and I are healed and restored.
Holy One, help me to surrender my restless attempts to prove myself righteous. Grant me the grace to rest in the justification of your grace and that alone. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.