The Cost of Following Christ

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“This is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” Today’s readings remind me of this famous quotation from Frederick Buechner. Jesus knows, as he’s commissioning his disciples to preach the Good News, that it’s not going to be easy, or safe. It will be beautiful, of that there is no doubt. Their preaching will change the world, spread the kingdom of heaven on earth. But there will be opposition, practical challenges, even danger. He promised to support them in supernatural ways that would make it easier for those who heard the message for the first time to believe.  

But what about us—can we expect that kind of backup today? I know many people who believe in Jesus, but they are not “accompanied” by the ability to handle venomous snakes or survive drinking poison. Christians have debated whether these signs were meant to continue beyond the early church. But this question is less interesting to me than the assumption that following Christ will be costly.  

Peter knew it would be. Be sober, be vigilant: the lion is on the prowl. But resist him, and Jesus will restore, confirm, and strengthen you. Cast all your worries upon Jesus, because in every age, whatever needs we have as we do the work of the Kingdom, he understands them. And whether the support we need consists of supernatural signs or just a bit of encouragement, Jesus will be there. Count on it.  

© Liturgical Press.

Susan Pitchford

Susan Pitchford, a sociologist at the University of Washington and Third Order Franciscan, is author of The Sacred Gaze, God in the Dark, and Following Francis: The Franciscan Way for Everyone.

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