Remember the movie, Brewster’s Millions?
Brewster (Richard Pryor) is told that his recently deceased great-uncle Rupert Horn, whom he has never met, has left him his entire $300 million fortune, but only if he can complete a challenge with several conditions. Brewster can choose to receive $1 million upfront, or attempt to inherit the whole estate by spending $30 million in 30 days. In the former case, the law firm becomes the executor of the estate, collecting a fee for performing this service and dividing the remainder among several charities.
In the latter case, Brewster may not own any assets that are not already his at the end of the 30 days. He must get value for the services of anyone he hires, he may donate 5% to charity and lose 5% by gambling, he cannot give any of the money away, and he may not waste it by purchasing and destroying valuable objects. Finally, he is not allowed to tell anyone, even Spike. If he fails to spend the entire $30 million, he forfeits any remaining balance and inherits nothing. Brewster decides to take the $30 million challenge, and Angela Drake, a paralegal from the law firm, is assigned to accompany him and keep track of his spending.
As a kid, I used to daydream about what I would do in a situation like that! And since I was a also a big fan of Richie Rich and Silver Spoons, I had all kinds of great ideas! The reality is, we do have a situation like that when it comes to our very lives.
Mark 8:31-38 NRSV
 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.  He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?  Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?  Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Jesus gave us the secrets to following him all the way.
1. Deny yourself.
You’ve been given a life to do with what you wish. You can enjoy it, consume it, waste it. Or, you can deny it and lay it down.
You can believe that God has far greater purposes if you’ll lay your life down.
2. Take up your cross.
Peter didn’t “get” the cross. The cross was a shame-filled, publicly humiliating way to die for challenging the Roman empire and the power of the state.
We’ve interpreted taking up our crosses as making sacrifices or doing hard things or living under the weight of something heavy without complaining.
Taking up a cross really meant a willingness to go all the way to the death, resisting the power of the empire. Instead of seekign power and position, it’s laying it all down.
3. Follow Jesus.
Completely. All the way. In everything.
- Loving God.
- Loving other disciples.
- Loving all of our neighbors.
It often means choosing non-violence when violence seems justifiable and forgiveness when vengeance seems to be in order. And it means choosing to live like Jesus while resisting the power of the flesh, the world, and the evil one.