I have not published anything on this site since June of last year. I came very close to shutting it down as I was running out of inspiration on what to write. I had thought I was going to write essays on the intersection of religion and culture based on related news that was happening at the time but nothing was coming to me.
But I’ve received inspiration to continue on but focus more closely on providing essays on Christian discipleship. Future articles will deal with the subject on a more practical level than before, with shorter articles on what discipleship is about and what it involves, based on my personal experiences and what I have learned from others. I realize this narrows the scope of the site somewhat, as it will be geared towards those who consider themselves disciples or followers of Jesus Christ and wish to grow in their relationship with Him. That being said, my hope is that it will provide some insight for everyone to see what goes on in the life of a Christ follower.
Let me start with the theme of following Christ when it is darkest. This is appropriate given that it is Good Friday as I type this essay. On the day of his crucification and death, Jesus was abandoned by all his followers, save just a few who stood by him near the cross as He suffered. All but one of his twelve closest disciples were nowhere to be found at Jesus’ darkest hours. Just hours earlier, Peter had denied Him three times. Before that, Judas betrayed Him and handed Him over to the authorities to be killed. Others had scattered and ran away in fear.
But a disciple of Christ is not supposed to abandon his Lord, at any time. To follow Him means a life long commitment to Him, no matter what the cost. This is easier said than done. But how many who claim to be Christians actually understand this?
The cost to follow Jesus can seem somewhat academic to those of us who live in the comfort of the West. I cannot write about it sufficiently enough to properly capture it. I do want to illustrate it with a real incident of about twenty or so young Christian men who were brutally executed for their faith a few years ago. They were Egyptian Christians who were working in Libya and were capture by radical Islamists. Their families in Egypt were fervently praying that they would be released but when it became apparent that their deaths were imminent, many started to pray that they would remain strong and not abandon Christ in the darkest hour of their faith.
The radicals released a video of the captured Christian men on a beach somewhere in Libya. They were on their knees with a masked executor behind each of the men with a sword in hand ready to execute them. The men could have saved themselves then and there by renouncing their Lord. But they did not and each of them died as a martyr for their faith. Although greatly saddened, their families rejoiced that their men did not abandon their Lord, knowing that they would see them again in His kingdom.
Seeing the images of those men about to be killed, because they refused to abandon their Lord, haunts my thoughts from time to time. These men paid the ultimate price for their faith. This is what it means to follow Christ. Only a heart totally devoted to Jesus, in love and faith and dependence on Him, can truly follow Him.
Jesus once said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.” To be a Christ follower is not a trivial thing. It demands our very lives. May those of us who are disciples of Christ reflect deeply on the sacrifice Christ paid for us and on the sacrifice these Egyptian disciples paid for their Lord.
2017 © Ed LeBlanc