Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” —Mark 8:34–35
Richard Rohr shares how Jesus’ message and way is intended to change our lives with its counter-intuitive wisdom and call:
A blatant contradiction between message and action is holding us back in every part of the world. Christians too often preach a self-absorbed gospel of piety and religiosity, rather than a “lifestyle gospel.” The gospel is so radical that if we truly believed its message, it would call into question all the assumptions we currently hold about the way we live, how we use our time, whom we relate to, how we marry, and how much money we have. Everything we think and do would be called into question and viewed in a new way. 
I believe that we rather totally missed Jesus’ major point when we made a religion out of him instead of realizing he was giving us a message of simple humanity, vulnerability, and nonviolence that was necessary for the reform of all religions—and for the survival of humanity. We need to dedicate our lives to building bridges and paying the price in our bodies for this ministry of reconciliation (Ephesians 2:13–18). The price is that we will always, like all bridges, be walked on from both sides. Reconcilers are normally “crucified,” and the “whole world hates them,” because they are neither on one side nor the other. They build the vulnerable bridge in between, which always looks like an abdication of ground to the supposedly “true believer.”
Jesus is a person and, at the same time, a process. Jesus is the Son of God, but at the same time he is “the Way.” Jesus is the goal, but he’s also the means, and the means is always the way of the cross.
For all authentic spiritual teachers, their message is the same as their life; their life is their message. For some reason, we want the “person” of Jesus as our “God totem,” but we really do not want his path and message of “descent” except as a functional theology of atonement: this is what Jesus needed to do to “save us.” We do not want to see the cross as the pattern of life and a path for our own liberation. We prefer heavenly transactions to our own transformation.
The way of the cross looks like failure. In fact, we could say that Christianity is about how to win by losing, how to let go creatively, how the only real ascent is descent. We need to be more concerned with following Jesus, which he told us to do numerous times, and less with worshipping Jesus—which he never once told us to do. 
 Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Good News According to Luke: Spiritual Reflections (New York: Crossroad, 1997), 47.
 Adapted from Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go, rev. ed. (New York: Crossroad, 2003), 80−81.
Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 6. Jenna Keiper, Taos Snow. Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 2. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.
Like ever-changing light in snow, we open to surprises on the way of Jesus.
Story from Our Community:
For years I read the Bible and other spiritual books without knowing the true meaning of the word “spirit.” It was just a word until I finally found out that “spirit” is a Latin word for “breath.” As in, simple respiration: breathing in and out. I wish I had known earlier! There are many passages that are completely transformed with this understanding. For example, Jesus’ words “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) I hope everyone who studies Christianity can benefit from this insight. —Bruce C.