Jesus doesn’t exaggerate often or speak as if your hair is on fire. Yet in these words he lays everything on the table.
If there is one thing to do as a follower of Jesus, this, according to Jesus, is it:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:34-36)
Do you want to know the deepest and most intimate love? Do you want your identity to be clear and strong? Do you want your purpose for each day to have more inspiration?
Then you must make a trade off. You must deny yourself. You must take up your cross. You must lose your idea of life, your grip on the controls, and your personal agenda for the day.
Like putting down bags you are carrying. If your arms are already full, you don’t have any capacity for carrying something better. Like lifting up a child, or grabbing your keys, or holding your morning coffee.
Jesus is your most faithful love. Jesus defines your identity given by God. Jesus knows exactly how to challenge you and where to call you.
So die to your own self-determination and playing God and using Jesus to serve your agenda.
Then what happens? You find a new life. Your arms are emptied of holding what you think matters so much, and there is new peace, new joy and new strength to do what matters even more. The world matters less. Your soul matters more.
If you seek the world before your soul, you will gain neither. You will not gain from the world everything that your heart desires, and you will forfeit the ultimate life and love that Jesus wants to give.
If you seek your soul before the world, you will gain both. You will live a full and free life loved by Jesus and you will have everything in the world you need.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I become so interested in things that I think matter so much. Today I ask for discernment, to better understand. For direction, to pursue what matters to you. And finally, for death, for the cross, for willingness in my heart to give up what is getting in the way of true life. May your cross and resurrection fill me today and always. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: I preached a message about his as part of our CrossLife “Heaven on Earth” series. You can find it here http://crosslifepf.org/messages/essentials-according-to-jesus/. Please share it with a friend who needs life found only in Jesus.