Faith Daily | 23 February 2023
PRAYER of the DAY - APBA p481
Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made,
and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent:
create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we, worthily lamenting our sins,
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
GOSPEL for the Day: Luke 9: 22-25
“The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” 23Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. 25What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Rev’d David
I have a list on my desk of important Bible verses I want to guide my life. The top two are verse 23 from today’s reading and the other will conclude this reflection.
In verses 23 to 25 Jesus leaves us in no doubt about what it means to be His follower (also Matthew 10:37-39). When we seriously engage with the seriousness of this, we see that Jesus is not interested in casual Christianity because in reality there is no such thing.
The Danish theologian, Soren Kierkegaard wrote “The Bible is very easy to understand. But we pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly”. This could well apply to these verses.
In my Christian journey which began about sixty years ago now, it took some time for me to engage with the truth of Jesus words here, that choosing to follow Him does not mean simply adding Him to our lives.
We must act on these essential truths of following Jesus by loving and obeying Him more than anything else (verses 23-25). John Calvin described self- denial as “the sum of the Christian life” . Not only self- denial but daily dying to self and all its expression in our lives. Luke’s inclusion of “daily” shows us that it means being ready to bear all the daily afflictions of life with grace, knowing they are allowed for our growth and maturity, to fulfil His purposes for us. And following Jesus also means a genuine greater love for Him than material possessions (verse 25), being good investors who accumulate lasting treasure in giving His love to others. (Matthew 6:19-21)
The Anglican apologist Os Guinness was a good friend of John Stott. He wrote about a treasured visit he made three weeks before John Stott’s death: “ After an unforgettable hour…I asked him how he would like me to pray for him. Lying weakly on his back and barely able to speak, he answered in a hoarse whisper ‘pray that I will be faithful to Jesus until my last breath’. Would that such a prayer be the passion of our generation too”.
The second verse at the top of my list is the testimony of St Paul which all followers of Jesus should want to make their own, “The life you see me living is not ‘mine’ but is lived by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. I am not going to go back on that” (Galatians 2:20 MSG)
Loving Lord, thank you for the clarity of your word to us. Help us by your grace to live each minute of each day you give us, to follow you and please you, for your glory. Amen