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Die to Self

On Sunday, I challenged the church to take their next step as a disciple of Jesus because I believe Jesus calls every believer to be a disciple.  Our call to follow Him personally and to follow Him fully is just as real as His call to the men on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  

I unpacked on of the paradoxes of following Jesus on Sunday as the path to growing as a disciple.  What was the paradox?  What was the truth hidden in an apparent contradiction?  Jesus put it this way:  if you want to find your life, you will lose it.  What?  If I lose it then I will find it?  Yep.

Read it in context from Matthew 16:24-25:  "24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it."

Do you see it?  When you lose your life for the sake of Christ, you find it.  If that is true and it is, then how do we lose our life?   Jesus tells us that, too.

  • Deny Yourself
  • Take Up Your Cross
  • Follow Him

Denying yourself is an active denying of your selfish, sinful, hurtful patterns.  Denying yourself is an intentional act.  It never happens by accident so you must do it intentionally.  We are hard-wired by our sin nature and by the culture we live in today to live for ourselves.  Jesus' call to discipleship is to intentionally live a selfless life.

Taking up your cross means accepting whatever comes because you have accepted Jesus.  When we put our faith in Jesus, we are blessed beyond anything we deserve, but when we follow Jesus we will also face challenges and persecution.  Whether blessed, challenged, or persecuted, we will take up our cross and keep following Jesus.  This takes discipline.  The kind of discipline that even when things seem overwhelming to us or impossible for us, we keep following Jesus.

Following Jesus means 100% commitment to His teaching and to His way of life.  It means doing what Jesus would do the way He would do it.  It means living a life of faithfulness and obedience because of all that Jesus has done for us and in us.   Following Jesus isn't optional for a disciple.  Following Jesus IS LIFE for a disciple.

We see this truth in Paul's teaching in Galatians 2:20:  "20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  Amazingly enough, Paul describes the paradox of His life and the paradox of all of our lives:   We have died in Him so we now live for Him.  We are dead, but alive because we live by faith in Him!