“You can have it your way”, “Because you’re worth it”, “The customer is king!” Advertising plays on our vanities and insecurities, placing us at the center of the picture.
We’re not immune to this way of thinking in the Church. Ever so slowly, we can start to view our faith through the lens of consumerism, thinking more about what we get out of our churches than what we put in. Consumerism may sell products, but doesn’t produce discipleship – the customer is not king, Jesus is. When some Greeks asked to see Him, Jesus tried to put them off, speaking of the true cost of discipleship. He wants followers not fans!
Usually when Jesus speaks of His death, He does so in terms of it being a saving death (which it is). Here, He (“the seed” about to die) speaks of His death in multiplying terms. The dying seed produces many seeds (of the same). The answer to the needs of the world is for all His disciples, in every age, to share His life and carry that same power and authority (Matthew 9:35-10). But disciples aren’t formed from crowds. We cannot call someone “Master” when our own needs and comforts are uppermost on our minds and agendas. If we love our own lives, then we will lose them ultimately (John 12:25).
The essence of discipleship is contained in a verse that bears closer scrutiny. In v26, Jesus says, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will be also”. In some ways, this is the opposite of what we might expect Him to say – we might anticipate Him saying that, if we want to follow Him, we must serve Him. Instead, He puts it the other way around. Serving Him requires that we follow Him.
It isn’t about “good works” that WE do; it’s about whether we do what HE asks us to do. Discipleship cannot be separated from an intimate relationship with Jesus, requiring us to learn to hear His voice and develop habits of obedience to the little prompts and nudges that we all receive.
If you don’t know what to do today, just do something. Do the last thing that you felt God tell you to do. “A moving object is easier for God to steer, and harder for Satan to hit!” And far from having a dull, dutiful relationship with God, you will find instead that His service is perfect freedom (John 4:31-34).