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Our Discipleship in Union with Christ 


By Gabriel N.E. Fluhrer, Ph.D.


 fabulous dinner. What was it?” “Thank you, sweetie,” she replied. “It was chicken marsala.” Puzzled, he asked innocently, “Where was the chicken?” She froze, the terror of something important forgotten sweep- ing over her. She stumbled towards the oven and threw open its door, clapping her hands to her mouth as she gazed upon the scene that greeted her. There, safe in the oven and still warm, was a tray full of juicy, mouth-watering, expertly prepared chicken. Good Southern folks that they were, her soon-to-be in laws never said a word about the chicken marsala that was, well, just marsala. The point is, if we’re missing an essential ingredient, we end up with a totally different dish than we intended. Discipleship to Jesus is no different. In Luke 9:23, he tells us, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” In this verse, our Lord makes clear at least three essential characteristics – three ingredients, as it were – that mark out his followers for all time.


W Denial of Self


- ognize a common a theme in our Lord’s teaching here. It is not a detour down an otherwise seldom-traveled road in his min- istry. Far less is it a unique command or a stray thought. No, the theme of self-denial is both embodied by and non-negotiable for our Lord.


Why does he insist upon such a daunting proposition? It is because he wants to take away any joy in our lives, subdue our


freedom, and bid us enter into an existence of hapless austerity? No, just the opposite, in fact. He does not call for self-denial to restrict our freedom, but to offer us true freedom. His words


here underscore a reality we all know but rarely discuss, the truth that we all serve a master. His simple, revolutionary invita- tion forces us to choose which master we will serve, God or self. Much has been made of the “post-Christian West.” Whatever the merits of this hypothesis, a glaring similarity remains be-


 assistance of Google, iPhones, and 5G networks. Serving self used to require at least a tithe of our time. But because of recent tech- nology, our ego-centered religion no longer requires even this minimal obeisance. Self-worship is always a swipe or click away. Jesus is calling us to make a choice, between serving and worshipping self or serving and worshipping God. The two bodies


July/August 2019t 201 J l /A /A 019 7


hen one of our extended family members got engaged, she had the nerve-wracking task of making supper for her future in-laws. She is a good cook and therefore didn’t have much to worry about. The big night came. She prepared a lovely meal of chicken marsala with a cadre of sides. Everyone seemed delighted by the fare.


Synod Coverage


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