Mary needed to give up her virgin body and reputation, and eventually her firstborn son.
Joseph needed to give up his good name.
The rich young ruler needed to give away his riches.
Peter needed to leave his career.
Matthew as a former tax collector needed to give up his shady dealings and his heart’s allegiance to a political party.
The Priest and Levite needed to give up their own agenda and stop and help an injured man.
The wise teacher, Nicodemus, needed to be born again like a baby.
The disciples needed to become like children.
Stephen needed to speak to hostile crowds who would take his very life.
Another man needed to leave his family without saying goodbye.
Another needed to let others bury his father.
The widow needed to give her last coin.
Paul had to give up his status and retract all his definitions of good and evil.
All had to give up their whole lives for the Kingdom of God.
Just like Jesus did.
This is called the death of the self-life. Death to self is not for only martyrs or really “serious Christians.” It’s the price of following Christ at all. And you have never really become a follower of Jesus if you have not fully died. You have to actually lose your life for His sake. So many Christians have never fully died. That’s why so few are fully alive.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24
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. Galatians2:20
Before you tell Jesus you are ready to follow Him, count the cost. Because Jesus said, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
Following Jesus means your rights, riches, rituals, reputation, and renown get demolished.
What will you not allow to fall apart, fall between the cracks, let unravel if God asked you to. These are your first loves and your idols.
What will you not do for God? What is the one thing that forms so much of your identity you would be lost without it? You have to surrender that or you will never know the fullness of the Kingdom experience. Is it helping you or giving you security to hold onto that thing? Do you tell yourself it’s really not that important anyway to you or to God so why would you need to offer it to Him? Is it a gift that you think God gave to you (for His glory) so you feel like you have to protect it? Like it’s your duty? God rarely asks for your resilience–He asks constantly for your reliance. What if that is the one thing that’s keeping you unwakable, unavailable, or under captivity to fear?
What would it be like to be free of that one thing?
What would it be like to drop that thing once and for all at the feet of Jesus and just say “yes” to Him actually and fully this time?
Before I died three years ago, I always thought Jesus and I were yoked together in a way that was helping me with MY life–to pull my weight, to carry my load, to do my work well. But then I realized I was being invited to leave my whole cart of stuff I was carrying and go be yoked to Him pulling HIS cart, doing HIS agenda, making disciples and building His church, His bride, working in and only for his kingdom. It’s so much more fun! I don’t even know what I was thinking before!
Aren’t you tired? It’s way better over here.
There’s a lot that people do “for God.” That never interested Jesus.
His question is, what would you NOT do for Him?
What takes your time and attention away from Him and His kingdom? Could it be that Hes asking for your one thing? Not for lent, not as an exercise in self control, but in full and total surrender.
There are so many people who are afraid to die. Trust me, though, it’s actually pretty great.
Because THEN…then is resurrection and new life in the Spirit.
You only die once.