“Jesus came humbly as a servant, but He never begs us to give Him some small part of ourselves. He commands everything from His followers.” – Francis Chan, Crazy Love.
Think about that statement. Quite challenging isn’t it? I have just been reading the book “Crazy Love” and I came across that statement. It made me put down my book and think for a few minutes. It made me think seriously hard about my life verse:
“Then Jesus told His disciples, ‘if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'” (Matthew 16:24, ESV)
A powerful verse. But what Jesus says after that is equally important:
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25, ESV)
But AJ, what does that all mean? What does it mean to deny myself? What is it to take up a cross. And why should I follow Jesus? Why will I lose my life if I try to gain it but if I lose it for Jesus then I will find it? Following Jesus is going to be hard. Jesus said that the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. Do we have to be like that? Yes, we do. And yes, it is hard. But it is worth it.
Remember my post on Longing for Egypt? We all get caught in the trap of sin and thinking that it is pleasant. In actuality, it is nasty stuff. It is easier, yes, but it is slavery and it wants to grab hold of you. We have a long process known as sanctification, that is to become like Christ. I think that when we look at Jesus we want to become like Him, just without all the hard work that it takes to get there.
We as humans don’t seem to realise that God has a life for us that is better than we could ever imagine if we just let Him use us. How do we let him use us? By denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Him. But let us remember that it is God who made us. Don’t you think that the One who did the Creating would know just what we need and what is best for the created? God has told us to do certain things, why? Because He knows us better than we could ever know ourselves and he knows what is best for His creation. We tend to reject Him and think we know better when really we do not. He can’t use us if we are not ready to be the people that He needs us to be. How do we get there: deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him.
I don’t know about you, but I am frustrated with my sinful state. I am frustrated with myself that I keep messing up and that my heart is so stubborn that it wants to have its own way. I want to change, I want to be like Christ, I want to be used. I want to be better at following Jesus. I want to be a better disciple, an obedient one and one that devotes all of my life to God, not just some of it. It is a long process and it often leads me to becoming more and more frustrated with myself when I realise just how sinful I really am and just how holy and perfect God expects me to be. I am confident in saying that I have never been more grateful in my life for Christ’s sacrifice so that I may live than I have this year. I keep realising how much Christ did just for me, nevermind the rest of the world. I am not anywhere close to sanctification yet. I know that I must be holy as He is holy but I am not doing as I have been commanded. I want to change, though, that is my first step. Do you want to change? It really is all much more simple than we make it out to be. We just need to accept it.