Don’t Lose Sight of the Joy of Christ

I get concerned sometimes that we are under the mistaken impression that discipleship is always about difficulty and suffering.

We speak of the cost of discipleship (to use Bonhoeffer’s phrase) or we hear Jesus say things like, “whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Very weighty phrases.

It is true that there is a cost of discipleship – and that cost can at times be high. At times, there will be difficult and sometimes painful consequences that flow from following Christ, from putting Christ first in our lives. And some of the crosses we are asked to bear are heavy, indeed.

But if that is all we focus on – if that is all we see when we look at Jesus – our faith, and therefore our lives, become simply an unpleasant task that has to be undertaken for the sake of some larger goal. And when that is all we see, we miss the sheer joy of spending time with Jesus. Of walking with him, being with him, simply enjoying his company.

The disciples went out on difficult missions (and some of them never came back). But they also ate meals with Jesus, went to wedding feasts with him, and probably, at times, just clowned around with him.

It would do us well to do some of the same.