Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

You Must Lose Your Self

Sometimes in popular culture I feel as if the understanding is that the church says hard things but Jesus said easy, comforting things.  I'm midway done with the book of Mark after having just read Matthew and when I read what Jesus said I feel the popular sentiment couldn't be more wrong.  Jesus said hard things, very hard things.

As Jesus explains it, much of the process of becoming His follower involves losing yourself.  Christianity is very much about losing your perceived identity.

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  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?"  Matthew 16:24-26a

Being a follow of Jesus, a Christian, is to lose yourself.

Many times when Christians explain the Gospel we want to hide this truth.  We try to mask the cost of being a follower of Jesus.  We make Jesus into someone who said easy things to those wanting to follow Him, but He didn't.  We must tell people the cost of being a disciple of Jesus so they can count the cost.

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.  Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?"  Luke 14: 28

Jesus made the above statement to illustrate that people must count the cost of being a disciple.  We must not encourage people to come to Jesus blindly.  Just a few sentences later Jesus said:

"In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."  Luke 14:33

The cost of discipleship is high, but it is more than worth it.  Consider Jesus' parable of the hidden treasure.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."  Matthew 13:44

Losing yourself for the sake of Jesus is worth it.  The cost of being a follower of Jesus is high in earthly standards, but it is a steal compared to what we receive from Jesus.

Imagine if you saw someone selling everything they owned.  Wouldn't you think they're a fool?  A man or woman selling everything: the car, the house, the bed, the stocks, grandma's china, the kitchen sink... everything.  We'd think this person is insane.  Now what if they sold all they had to get the riches of Bill Gates?  Now, they don't seem so crazy.  So, it is with the Gospel except that the riches of the Kingdom make Bill Gates a pauper in comparison.

The man in the parable of the hidden treasure was so enamored by the treasure that he went IN HIS JOY and sold all he had.  All he had must have seemed really special until he saw that treasure in the field.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."  Jim Elliot

The Apostle Paul says it like this when talking about all of himself that he used to deem valuable:

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, 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"  Philippians 3:7-9a

So, why do some of us, though we do struggle to daily die to self, find the Gospel an incomparably great treasure and some not see it as worth losing their self for?

"The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."  2 Corinthians 4:4

Those who haven't seen the Gospel as a gloriously rich possession aren't stupid.  They simply have been blinded and are unable to see it.  But God can change that.  One day I pray that those who don't see the worth of Jesus will have new glasses given to them so they can comprehend the infinite worth of the Gospel and unending love of Christ for them.

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."  2 Corinthians 4:6

So, walk alongside those who are counting the cost of discipleship.  Don't mislead them about what the costs are and always encourage them to see the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.  And above all pray that they may have new glasses given to them by God to see the vibrant, abundant life giving, treasure that is the Gospel today.

(The below video illustrates this beautifully)

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