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Luke 9:21–27 ‘Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”’ (vv23–24)

The National Lottery’s success suggests we desire to find shortcuts to realise our dreams. We assume wealth will deal with our problems. The same can be true of becoming a Christian, as we assume our troubles are over. 

True in part because we are now joined to the true source of life. However, favourable friendships can’t guarantee a pain-free life. We need to discover how fit we are to endure faith’s challenges. In America, there’s a great bumper sticker acronym for fitness, ‘No pain, no pain.’ This quickly became my perfect antidote to exercise. But, as every athlete knows, sacrifice demands difficult choices to serve their athletic ambitions. 

Sadly, Paul calls us athletes (1 Cor. 9:24–27) because discipleship demands a steady focus over time. Sacrifice means choosing intention as our first priority. Here we test and clarify our true ambition. Whose will takes primacy – ours or Gods? 

We are forced to disentangle personal desires from God’s best intention for our mortal experience. It feels uncomfortable discovering elements that on the surface appear innocuous but which we are required to weed from our life practices to ensure healthy growth.

Such moments test our resolve and many require time before a final decision is first taken and even longer for full implementation. This is because there’s a personal cost involved, a letting go often before anything substantial can be taken hold of. This is the risk of faith – the chosen life of the disciple.


Josh. 24:14–22; Deut. 30:11–20; Phil. 4:4–9; Col. 2:6–15


What are the sources of possible pain that distract you from peak performance as a Christian athlete?


‘Lord, encourage me to press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me in Christ Jesus. Amen.’ (Phil. 3:14)

Photo by Tim Wildsmith on Unsplash
Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.