I’ve been thinking about symbols and logos and stuff a little bit lately. A symbol or logo visually represents something that may be difficult to visualize; typically a group or a company, but sometimes even a concept. Think of 3 arrows bent to point at each other in the shape of a triangle to represent recycling. The logo might not have an obvious connection to what it represents, but over time and with effective branding effort has come to be associated with it anyway. (Like an apple with a bite taken out symbolizing a particular computer company.)
With a group of friends, I’ve been reading a great book about being a disciple called Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman. (Do yourself a favor and read this book.) In one section, he talks a little bit about a symbol of discipleship. If you had to choose a symbol for your discipleship, what would it be? [Stop and think about that a bit before you move on…]
Some may choose a desk or a Bible or a stack of books, calling to mind the way we learn about Jesus and grow.
Maybe you’d choose a snuggie, thinking of the comfort found in the arms of our Heavenly Father.
You might think of the way Jesus called Peter to fish for men, and use the symbol of a fishing pole or a net.
But in Luke 9:23, Jesus used an image that no one in their right mind during the first century would have used.
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Keep in mind, this was before the resurrection, before the cross had become a symbol of victory, or a decoration, or just a piece of jewelry. There hadn’t been any religious sanitation of the cross yet. It was only a brutal device for public humiliation, torture, and death. That’s it.
If you want to be my disciple, Jesus says, you have to come die. You have to put to death the life you want to live and follow me into a new life. If Jesus said this today, it might be more like “Sit down in this electric chair and let me throw the switch!” Stuff like this caused Jesus to not have a lot of fans. Understandably, I’d say. Jesus didn’t build a stadium for fans – he wanted followers.
Maybe it’s time that we empty the stands, stop cheering Jesus on, and walk with Him through the way of suffering. Don’t settle for the life of a fan – pick up your cross and follow Him today.