Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34
They stood out like lighthouse beacons. We spotted them while walking through the tables of artisan wares in old Havana. Two oil painting portraits side-by-side propped in front of the table. Portraits of two famous revolutionaries: Che Guevarra and Jesus Christ.
The Cuban people are well acquainted with Che. The Argentina-born socialist revolutionary joined Fidel Castro in the Cuban revolution of 1959. Fidel made him Minister of the Interior for the first five years. Then Che disappeared only to surface in Bolivia where he was captured and executed. Cuba has made him out to be a martyr for the revolution. His face and sayings are even more wide-spread in the country than Fidel’s.
Jesus is also becoming well-known in Cuba due to revival that has swept the island since the late 1980’s.
These two portraits depict the major choices for most people today. One revolutionary says, “Follow me and I will make you a liberator of men—teach them how to fight!” The other says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men—teach them how to really live!”
One revolutionary says, “Follow me and USE your life for the sake of the revolution!” The other says, “Follow me and LOSE your life for my sake and the gospel’s (and you will find it)!”
The one says “Follow me and we will build a utopia on earth!” Jesus says, “Follow me and we will build the kingdom of God on earth (and the world will be a better place)!”
Those who have chosen to follow Jesus in Cuba are making a significant impact for the Lord. I met a twenty-three-year-old Cuban young lady who is a committed follower of Jesus. She ministers to four churches in the mountains where no male graduate from the seminary is willing to serve. The one mountain-top church we visited with her required forty-seven crossings of the winding mountain river in climbing the eight kilometres distance. In rainy season the mud is up to her knees.
I asked her what the last message was she had shared with believers. She replied, “Take up your cross and follow me!”
We also saw a young male evangelist en route to a meeting point which would take him seven hours to walk. That’s commitment!
Today Jesus is also calling you and me to truly follow Him. It may mean leaving behind our favourite time-waster and our comfort zones. But Jesus promises his personal presence and his abundant blessing. It’s an adventure like no other. If you listen carefully, you can hear his voice right where you are this moment. He’s saying, “Follow me!”
RESPONSE: Today I choose to follow Jesus, regardless of the cost.
PRAYER: Lord, may Your call on my life ever draw me closer to You and Your kingdom.