What are you willing to risk everything for?

Posted: January 18, 2014 in Get Close to God

carrying-the-cross-daily2

Forty-fifth in the series Get close to God
 

If you were going to promote the Christian lifestyle, would you tell your prospects what Jesus did in Matthew 16:24?

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

We don’t like someone telling us how to live our lives, much less denying us the freedom to pursue our desires.  We are not willing to sacrifice our comfort or safety unless it is for a pleasure source that is worth the inconvenience or the risk.  Some find it in a cause, or for love, and some recklessly abandon all restraint for another fix for their addiction.

Is Christ asking us to give up every pleasure or go live as a monk? A.B. Simpson said,

“The meaning of self-denial is not an infliction of personal torment nor penance, but it is simply the giving up of the very principle of living for ourselves. It is completely changing the direction of our being and will, so that no longer in any sense do we act with reference to how anything will affect us, but our one thought is how it will affect God or others.”

It is the difference between waking up in the morning and evaluating how the things on my calendar for today will make me feel, versus asking the Lord to show me how I can be used by him in the midst of those activities.

Buried beneath the layers of religiosity and grandiosity lies a precious little secret that can fill and energize our hungry souls like nothing else.  We try so hard to be good and please people and please God, but what does he want the most from us?  Are you ready?  Here it is.  He wants…us.  He wants us more than our programs and committees and initiatives.  Those things are important, but they must involve working closely with him.  He wants us to work with him, not just for him. We need to work closer, not harder. Not only does he become more real to us in the process, but we accomplish so much more, at least at what matters the most.

Is pursuing Christ worth risking everything for?  Let’s hear from someone who thought so: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.”
Paul, Philippians 3:8

The more we become captivated and consumed with the love of God, the more we will recklessly abandon all restraint on our time, talents, and treasure, and willingly release them for his purposes and glory. Only then will we understand the motivation behind Paul’s devotion and the testimonies of the “I Am Second” movement. They have discovered that being a willing slave for Christ is better than being free to follow their own desires which never stay quenched.

How do you know if you are denying yourself or not?  Listen to how many times you hear me, myself, and I in your thoughts: I don’t want to do that.  I’m not comfortable doing that.  That bothers me.  That’s awkward for me.  What will they think of meI don’t have time for that.  I don’t want to give that much of my money.  I know those thoughts because I think them.  But I don’t want to.  What I do is not the good I want to do.  Sound familiar?  Yes, Paul, again, in Romans 7:19. But he goes on to say, “Thanks be to God-through Jesus our Lord!” 

I don’t want my life to end before I come to the end of myself.  I don’t want my pride to fill my final years with regret.  Admitting we need God doesn’t make us weak.  It makes us stronger as he empowers us to be all he made us to be.   And just what is that, you might ask?  Well, if you’re still trying to find yourself, then read the next verse: 

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”

 

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