Unfortunately, there is no theological support for the idea that once we become Christians, life will be a bed of roses and our road an easy one. However, there is a promise that God is able to equip us to be ‘overcomers’!
While we live in this fallen world, life will present challenges and we will often have to make difficult, counter-culture choices. There’ll be many times when we must say ‘no’ to self if we are to say ‘yes’ to God. Like choosing to forgive those who hurt us. Or choosing not to retaliate and insist on our rights. Or choosing to tell the truth at all times. Or blessing those who are unkind or ungenerous to us.
In Mark 8:34-35, Jesus talks about ‘denying self’, ‘taking up the cross’ and ‘losing your life’. That sort of living, with eyes constantly watching for the Father’s direction is the direct opposite of the boast of Frank Sinatra’s ‘I did it my way’. Jesus did it God’s way. He modelled this lifestyle. ‘I delight to do Your will, O God’ is written in the Psalms of the Messiah. But it is often a costly lifestyle.
Jesus’ choosing of the cross seemed wholly unreasonable to Peter. “The Son of man must suffer… be rejected…be killed…” (Mark 8:31). Surely not? ‘Out of the question’ says Peter. But Jesus not only rebukes Peter for a lack of discernment but then goes on to preach a sermon calling every follower to such a path. ‘Those who would come after Me must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.’ (Mark 8:34)
Jim Eliot, the missionary to the Auca Indian tribe, murdered by the very people he wanted to share the Gospel with, wrote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Jesus committed Himself wholeheartedly to following God’s wisdom and direction for His life, above His own desire for comfort, convenience and ease. The principle of sacrifice is the very heart of growth and multiplication in the kingdom. ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and die, it remains alone.’ (John 12:24)
God wants to make us overcomers. But it is as we die to ourselves and ‘our own way’ that the overcoming, transforming, love-focused life of God is released.
For Your Reflection:
Where can I choose God’s way and wisdom above my own? How can I become less so that He can become more in me? What will that look like in my home / workplace / church? (FOUNTAIN OF LIFE CHURCH)