The crux of discipleship is not knowledge. It is the will.
The crux of discipleship, of life with God in his kingdom, is the crux–that is the cross. Crux means cross. Funny that we use the expression, “The crux of the matter.” We use it to indicate what the main thing is, but the saying itself reveals what the main thing is–the cross.
And so it is in the matter of our following Jesus. That is why he says to us from the outset, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” He is cutting right through all the periphery to what is central–the will. Of course he does this through the mind, but the mind itself is not the end. Our precious will must die and be conformed to his–that is the point. And whose will is better?
Our Lord uses knowledge to get through to our will.
Without knowledge no one can enter relations with him, but for many of us knowledge is not the bottleneck of our progress with God–the will is. We cannot get farther than our will has surrendered to go. It is possible for knowledge to surpass intimacy with God, and even to suppress it. “Knowledge puffs up…” It is im-possible for a surrendered will to leave us distant from our Lord–and it is the cross that gets us there–that’s why it is central.
Jesus makes no qualms about this; he cuts straight to the point,
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”
That is the main issue for us–not how much our mind knows, but how much our will is surrendered to our Lord. The cross is the crux of discipleship, because it is the instrument by which the will is put to death. Only the one who has denied himself and taken up his cross is able to follow his Master, draw near to him, and be of any use to him. Otherwise we are wild stallions.
Many of us are abounding in biblical knowledge and wonder why we still feel so distant from Jesus. Has he gotten through our minds to our wills? Have we handed all our hopes, dreams, desires, and plans over to him without condition or reserve? If not, he is still waiting for us where he always has been, and he is still saying same thing.