Some of you may remember a comedian by the name of Yakov Smirnoff. He is a Russian immigrant – and he likes to compare his former life in Russia to what he discovered here in the United States. In one of his monologues, he says that he was not prepared for the incredible varieties of instant products in American grocery stores.
He says, “On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk. You just add water, and you get milk. I saw powdered eggs, you just add water and you get eggs. Then I saw powdered orange juice, you just add water and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder – and I thought to myself – what a country!
Unfortunately – the same thing cannot be said when it comes to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Most of us begin our Christian walk at our baptism. We pour water over – or we fully immerse a person in water – and up out of that water arises a new creation – a Christian. But the transformation into a fully committed disciple of Jesus Christ has only just begun. When it comes to being a disciple of Jesus Christ – well – there’s just nothing instant about it.
Our transformation into a disciple of Jesus Christ – is a process that takes time. And I would suggest it is a process that takes a life-time. I think we would prefer something that was not so challenging. You know – a process where we go to church as if we are going to the grocery store – and finding something called “Powdered Christian”. Just add water and – instant disciple.
Unfortunately, you know it doesn’t work that way. Becoming a disciple is a process – it’s a marathon not a sprint. Disciples of Jesus Christ are made slowly through a process of trials and temptations – maybe even suffering – certainly questioning – times of prayer. It is something we train ourselves in – and quite frankly – it is a team effort. You name it – the disciple making process takes time.
Jesus tells us today that as his followers – as his disciples – we are to take up our cross and follow him. He says we are to deny ourselves. Those words might possibly be the hardest words to hear that Jesus ever says to us. But in order to follow him, we must learn what it means to take up our cross and follow him. And that can be painful. Letting go of the past – letting go of those things that would keep us from becoming and being the kinds of disciples Jesus is calling us to. Sometimes it might even feel like God is taking a hammer and chisel to us.
SO let me invite you to watch this video I found this week. It’s called “God’s Chisel: Remastered.” (watch at: skitguys.com/videos/item/gods-chisel-remastered).
So when you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see Jesus? When others look at you, do they see Jesus? Jesus tells us today that if we want to become his disciple we are to deny ourselves.
And that means allowing God to take His hammer and chisel to us. We are God’s workmanship – God’s masterpiece. God is at work in you and me to make us the kind of people He wants us to be. In order that we might do the things He is calling us to do. It takes time. The process of being – of becoming – a disciple takes time. And practice. And yes – it is a team effort. We are in this together.
You know, we talk a lot around here about the marks of a disciple – worship – prayer – Bible reading – developing Christian friends – giving – and serving. These are more than just the things that mark us as disciples of Jesus Christ. These are the tools God uses to chip away at the old self – the old self that rebels against God. Worship. Prayer. Bible reading. Spending time with Christian friends. Learning to serve. Learning to give.
But He chips away. And as God chips away – even those areas of our lives that we would just as soon he leave alone – as God chips away – in the place of the old arises a new self – what the Bible calls a new creation.
Nothing instant about it! It takes time, but God doesn’t make junk.
You are God’s original masterpiece. Yes even you!