Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with God. It is also not optional: It is the perfect and only way. When we forget who we are, we have an identity crisis and become lost. Let’s remember that we are called by Christ as his true disciples. When we realize that simple fact, we can see how God uses our lives, both the good and bad, to fulfill his great desire of world evangelism, and be victorious. Christ means that he has solved all of our problems, and received all the blessings. We have authority and everlasting life, which cannot be found anywhere else.
1. Deny yourself, carry the cross and follow Jesus
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (34)
What does it mean to follow Jesus Christ? It means to deny myself, confessing that I am no longer the master of myself, and I no longer follow my plans and ambitions, but follow your guidance and desire. Check your motives for why you follow Jesus? Ask yourself the question Jesus asked his disciples: Who do I say Jesus is? We envy and chase after the things of the world, but it is completely cursed, covered in darkness, and bound for destruction.
Jesus gives one condition for his disciples: deny yourself, and make Christ your master instead. He also tells us to carry our cross. Crucifixion was considered the worst way to be executed. What Jesus means to say is to completely stake your life on him, put your all-in for Christ. However, so many of us are all-in for ourselves instead of Christ. To be a disciple means to say goodbye to our old lives and live a new life that surrenders to his plan and is completely all-in to Christ. This is the true life of freedom and enjoyment. Let’s deny ourselves, carrying our cross and follow Jesus.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
2. Whoever loses their life for Christ and the gospel’s will save it
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” (35-37)
What can a man give in return for his soul? So many live for themselves and their survival, but the bible tells us that we will lose their lives, for everything in the world is ephemeral. The world promises happiness to those who live for themselves, but everything in the world will perish. Those who live for Christ and the kingdom of God live for things that are eternal, and live the most blessed and truly joyful lives. All the things that we have will all disappear and perish, but the kingdom of God will last forever.
3. Know the worth and the value of Christ
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (38)
When we understand the worth and value of Christ, our lives have no choice but to change. Jesus tells us that if we are ashamed of him, he will be ashamed of us when we return to heaven. What is being ashamed? It’s not necessarily feeling embarrassment, but not knowing the worth and value of Christ. When we get an engagement ring or a brand new phone, we change our behavior to show it off. But why are we ashamed? Because we want acknowledgement and recognition from the world. However, in doing so, we exchange the eternal glory of heaven in return. Let’s pray to realize the true worth and value of Christ, and think seriously about what it means to live a Christian life as a disciple.
We may think we are weak and lacking, but we have to see that God is molding and maturing us to be used in ways unimaginable for his glory. We get so easily distracted and tempted by the world. It’s an inevitable spiritual battle, but when our sights are on the kingdom of God, we have a clear direction and center to return to when we go astray.
Let’s think seriously about what it means to live as a disciple for Christ. If we’d still follow Jesus if our lives are on the line. Choosing to follow Jesus is no easy decision for us to make, but when we can make that choice, our lives will be filled with power. I am no longer the master of my life, but I follow Jesus, my shepherd who leads us to green pasture. Let’s restore our personal worship time, when we can meet with God and be reassured of his promises every day, Let’s make that confession: You are my Christ, and I lay down my life and will follow you as the master of my life.