With all the followers out there on social media, this week’s passage about taking up your cross to follow Jesus is deliciously counter-cultural. Jesus takes celebrity worship and turns it on its ear. He would tell us that seeking all the followers in the world won’t get us closer to our highest calling – which is living as our truest selves.
It was a hard teaching in the first century, and it’s even harder twenty centuries later. We like to follow successful people in hopes of becoming like them and sharing in their success. Jesus says if we follow him, we’ll have to take up our cross — meaning we have to sacrifice following our own desires for fame and fortune or even just plain old security. Only then will our true calling and true life come to fruition, as God provides us a way to lose ourselves in service to others, only to find that in that service, we come to know ourselves better than any other way.
I find this a good reminder in our celebrity-drenched media landscape that constantly distracts us from our lived experiences, our own existence in our own skins. Following Jesus promises a more peaceful existence within ourselves and between other people. Sounds like something we could all use these days. So follow Jesus — but not on Twitter or Facebook, rather in the desires of your heart.