“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save their life will lose it but whoever loses their life for me will find it. ” Matthew 16:24-25
Jesus isn’t a ‘get me out of hell free card’ or a get rich quick scheme. He demands something of us. In fact, he turns our formulas for success and self promotion upside down: we gain through loss and we live through death. To follow Jesus ultimately means that our lives reflect Jesus’ path to the cross, his death and eventual resurrection.
To often, though, we let our life ambitions and goals get in the way thinking they will lead to fulfillment in life. This ultimately frustrates us and leaves us feeling jaded.
Jesus, however, is in the business of redefining where true life is found. Lets be clear, its not in the American dream and upward mobility. Being a Christian has nothing to do with making life more comfortable or convenient. Following Jesus is decidedly inconvenient. True Christianity calls people to lay aside their devotion to any thing that stands between them and Christ, such as: money, power, prestige, careers, loose living and etcetera. In many ways, we must die if we desire a true and meaningful life.
Ultimately, Jesus calls us to ”cross-shaped living.” This involves daily exerting our efforts and abilities for Christ’s interests–the glory of God and the welfare of others (Phil. 2:1-11)– over our own. To accomplish this we must align ourselves with sacrifice instead of gain, dishonor instead of honor, humility instead of pride and loss now for future reward.
A cross shaped life radically reorients our focus from self-centeredness to other-centeredness and from love for self to love for God.
Anyone who claims to follow Christ needs to hear this–me most of all. We aren’t called to honor, prestige and self-advancement. Life isn’t about what we get–it’s about what we give. We’re called to daily self-sacrifice by laying aside our ideal in favor of Christ’s ideal. Today, ask yourself what that might look like. This is, after all, what following Jesus or ‘being a Christian’ entails.