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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Discipleship (02/23/04)

TITLE: A Study In Opposites
By Dave Wagner


The Cross: An instrument of destruction.

One arm of the Cross: To have your hopes and desires deferred indefinitely, especially when it is in your power to provide for yourself the very thing you are being denied.

The Other arm of the Cross: To be forced to stay in a situation that you can’t stand, and yet you could break free from if you wanted to.

The Purpose of the Cross: To kill you.


So many things in life are a study in opposites. Take the human body - at once incredibly delicate and amazingly durable. It can withstand (and recover from) incredible physical abuse…but one small air bubble in a vein, one small blood vessel breaks in the brain, one small blood clot, one unchecked virus…the end, roll credits.

The body is at once very simple to grasp, and yet impossibly complex. We look at a person and we see: head, arms, legs, some level of beauty and/or physical condition (fat, skinny, tall, short, in the middle). And yet, there are millions of things happening within that body, at any given second, which we are near-completely unaware of. Chemical reactions, impulses, transactions, independent movements.

Look at your hand for a moment…flex your fingers. Make a fist and release it again. You see fingers curling and straightening…simple, yes? And yet, if you even began to understand all that is necessary inside your body to perform those simple movements, it would literally boggle your mind.

There are many things that are likewise a study in opposites when it comes to the Body of Christ. A disciple is commonly defined as, and understood to be, a follower of Christ. In this way, it is understood that all Christians are disciples. You pretty much find your own level in your relationship with Christ, learn at your own pace, and roll with the punches. It is a simple, basic approach, that works well with just about any type of life.

This understanding would be enough…if it weren’t for the cross.

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24

As a disciple (and thus, a Christian), we must lay aside our hopes, our intentions, our desires, our gifts, talents, habits, idiosyncrasies, even our words, thoughts and deeds in deference to Gods’. I don’t mean empty yourself and become a shell, waiting to be moved by some invisible hand. I mean hold everything that you are in an open hand before the God that created us. This is death in the purest form of the word; if you don’t think this is a death, you haven’t tried it.

Every day, I must give God access to everything that is me: my material possessions, my relationships, and every aspect of my personality – so that He can change me and recreate me as He sees fit, weeding out the sin, and recreating me in the King’s image. This takes a level of trust that can only fully develop from a lifetime of interacting with Him. This is how we learn from Him, how we follow Him, how we become His disciple.

The purpose of the cross is to kill you. The whole body goes down into death – the good things (friendliness, warmth, loyalty, etc.) and the not-so-good (short temper, selfishness, greed, etc.). The sinful parts of us remain in the grave; the worthwhile parts of us are renewed in Jesus, and made eternal. This death route is the only way to life. It requires our participation, our permission.

We can chose to embrace the simpletons’ definition of discipleship, and continue to coast through each day on cruise-control until we look up, and find ourselves in a nursing home - or we can fix our eyes on our King, even right now, and ask Him what He would like to teach us today…about Him, about ourselves, about what He is doing. In this way, we lay down our life, take up the cross, and follow Him. We touch eternity. We become disciples.

See you there!

Member Comments
Member Date
Dave Wagner03/01/04
One unfortunate, glaring (to me) omission: The importance of studying the Bible. I guess that's "understood", but you can never be too careful. I should have included that somewhere.

Oh well, *sigh*.

BTW, is it the height of arrogance to comment on your own piece, or what? LOL
Corinne Smelker 03/02/04
I think it's funny that you commented on your own piece! So often I want to add an addendum to my own piece!

Like I said in my message to you yesterday; this was a good article; well thought out.

Welcome to the Challenge!
L.M. Lee03/02/04
I can SO relate to your crucifixion point. One pastor said, even dying to our self, we can't do alone. We might can nail one hand to the cross, but who will hold the other hand down and nail it? God has to do it.
Jacqueline Odom-Bullock03/02/04
This was nicely written. It is very important that we as Christians learn how to kill our flesh daily yet live for Christ.
Bertie Patano03/03/04
Dave, you did good, plain and simple, in a nut shell, not to wordy. I got your message easily. Bertie Patano.
If an article makes you think, and yours did, then I would have to classify it as a worthy read.
shirley shields03/03/04
Dave, I started not to comment on your article, but something bothers me in yout theology somewhat, or my understanding of it anyway.
Yes we are wonderfully made by a Creator I dont see how anyone could ever swallow the evolution theory.
Yes as christians we are to take up the cross of Christ and follow, which means laying down our desires and wills that conflict with the word of God.
But, the Cross isnt to kill us, but to remind us who died for our sins that we can never cover for ourselves, that being Jesus the Lord.
We dont lay aside all our hopes, gifts etc., but offer them up to the Lord, He is the one who gave them to us.We each are unique creations designed by God.
In a statement made in a critque you said in your opinion this world and it's hostile environment was hand crafted by God for the purpose of training disciples. God didnt create a hostile enviornment, man sins caused that, God's mercy and love was shown for His creation by not totally wiping it out. Thats why He made it simple for man to accept His freely given salvation through His son.John3:16) He gave everything in hopes to bring us back to Him. At one point we are told He did regret ever making manking, but thanks to Noah believing, connected to His own integrity and love for us,we are still around today. While we have to endure many things in this world, as we endure we grow spiritually in the word. Generally I have found the hardest part we face in this walk is giving up our rights, dead men have no rights I might add. I wrote an article about dead men walking..umm maybe you need to read it?? Just my thoughts, thanks for your insights
Dave Wagner03/03/04
Thanks to everyone that commented! Man, such a response!

Shirley, I will gladly read your article...I shall assume it is available here, if I click you name. After I respond here, I will try and track it down.

I appreciate your concerns, and understand your response completely. My views as expressed in this piece are not arrived at lightly, but come from years of interacting with Him, much study of the scripture and learning from deeper-life teachers and other committed Christians around me. I am always interested in going deeper and higher in the Lord. I am amazed at what He is doing, as far as establishing His Kingdom, and find His approach wise and impressive in the extreme.

Man, I don't want to get started and post a huge response. Let me just say that my views on the cross (and its purpose) and God's plan are the result of much thought, study and prayer, but I am always willing to learn and grow more. I will be happy for any help you might lend toward that end.
Wilma Straight03/04/04
Hi, Dave - I've been following your comments on other writers and re-read your article with interest. Something about you is alive and well and - well, likeable!

But here's the deal... I agree that discipleship is about death (MINE) and giving up my life as I would live it to live it as Jesus tells me to. But while my life is no longer my own, don't forget to add that He brings us back again to life. I see that life in the things you've written to other writers, so I know you know! But you didn't say it here. Even Jesus went to the Cross for the joy set before him; how much more do us mere humans need some kind of promise of joy. (Heb 12:2).

Believe it or not, I like how you engage us as readers - and I found that element in your review of other writers. Placing you, if you don't mind on the "Follow this writer" list. -Wil
Dave Wagner03/04/04
Thanks for the encouragement, Wilma!

>> ...don't forget to add that He brings us back again to life...you didn't say it here. <<

Actually, I thought I did: The whole body goes down into death – the good things...and the not-so-good...The sinful parts of us remain in the grave; the worthwhile parts of us are renewed in Jesus, and made eternal. This death route is the only way to life.

Thanks again. Hope I end up being worth watching. :) I have so much to say, it's not even funny.....
Donna Anderson03/05/04
Hmmmm...deeper, richer revelations confirmed! :) Touching Eternity indeed!
Linda Germain 03/05/04
Dave, Please forgive me for reacting from a sore throat,no sleep, whomping pain- in- the head place!( Writing about the most precious person in my life stirred up memories and I even made MYSELF cry.)It was not fair to let my vulnerable perspective misinterrpret your intentions. Now,I have three things to say: 1. Your vivacity, intensity, creativity, and even a percieved abruptness has been good for the community.2. Why are you frowning in your photo? 3. You wrote a good article! Having worked in Nursing Homes, I can tell you it IS better to "row, not drift"
A sister in Christ,L
Dave Wagner03/05/04
No prob. I'm glad we're ok again. I'm gonna go back and re-submit my critique to your piece again, rewritten, of course, and hopefully make it a bit more clear for the sake of others.

>> 2. Why are you frowning in your photo?

LOL, that's funny. Well, honestly, I didn't have much to choose from on my hard drive, as far as self portraits, so I just grabbed that one. I'll replace it, though, since others have complained as well. One person sent me a message saying I had an angry face, and it fit my personality (I'm using nicer words). BTW, I prefer to think of it as my "serious, contemplative face." LOL
Lynne Cox03/06/04
"The purpose of the Cross: to kill you" is a new concept to me. I'm still trying to figure out if I believe it!

My only criticism is that you used the word "chose"
Lynne Cox03/06/04
Ooops, I did something wrong, anyway, here is the rest of my message: ...used the word "chose" instead of "choose" in the last paragraph - probably a typo. Otherwise the grammar and spelling was impeccable!
Yvette Roelofse12/17/08
Dying to self is a daily struggle for me, and one I don't always win. I needed to read this now. Thank you.