Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) or on the Cove Presbyterian Church Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.
He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, "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."
Then 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. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."
Playing by Different Rules
I’ll tell you, few things frustrate me more than when I’m in the middle of some kind of activity and then find out that I’ve been playing by a different set of rules. For example, I remember, when I was much younger, I used to hang out with a couple who enjoyed playing cards. And even though there were some definite rules against it, this couple had a whole system of signals they’d use to communicate what cards they had and which cards to play. Of course, I didn’t know this when we started playing, but after losing consistently for months, I discovered their little secret. And even when they agreed to not do it anymore, somehow the fun of the playing just disappeared. Now that’s just one example, but it really doesn’t take a lot of imagination to come up with others, you know, like the teacher who allows some students to get extra credit while others don’t or the coach who comes down on certain players like white on rice while letting others just drift by. As a matter of fact, I think the current tension between the African-American community and police departments comes down to the perception that there are different rules for black people and white people.
And I’ll tell you, in the passage I just read, there’s another example of people playing by different rules. I mean, there are certain things that most people in society can and do accept, you know, like if you save your life, then you save your life. If you lose your life, then you lose your life. I mean, dah. And when it comes to living, satisfaction and sacrificial are probably mutually exclusive. Those are the rules by which the world plays. And yet according to Jesus, for followers, the exact opposite is true. You see, following Jesus Christ demands a reversal of not just values but of perception. And only then, will the first being last and the last first make sense. I’ll tell you, it’s only when we walk in his footsteps that we can actually understand how the poor and the meek and the hungry can actually be blessed. You see, when you get right down to it, Christians really do play by a different set of rules, and because they’re different, well, that can really make all the difference.