If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)
Jesus gave this tough challenge to His disciples. And the same challenge is posed to them that would choose to follow Him. They should be willing to pay the price of following Him.
And all the more they should be. Because in times like these, you will see how the world looks at Christianity. They see it now as a subject that nears an end.
But such thought is never true. It is the world that faces extinction. And that is because of its gross wickedness. It awaits the judgment of God at the appointed time.
Christian faith will always be there. It will never fade because the One who founded it stays alive. He continues to build it on the tenet of dying to self.
Christs disciples who choose to die to self live up to the challenge that He left behind. They give flesh to the Christian faith. They keep the faith alive in the present day. They show the light of Christ in the midst of a darkened world.
How does the Lord view death to self? How could dying to self uphold the Christian faith? How could it light the world?
To die to self is to live for Christ. We cannot die to ourselves unless we take in the life that was given up, and then raised up for us. The Apostle Paul knew this. He said, I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which 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)
It is the life of Christ in us that will help us die to ourselves. If that life is active in us, we allow Him to rule us. We allow Him to govern the way we think, feel and decide on. We give Him the freedom to accomplish His purposes for our lives. If we choose to die to ourselves, we also give up our rights to Him. For if He does have them, He would have the right to do what He pleases to do in and through us. This is the kind of life that He wants us to live - a life that is completely surrendered to Him.
Those who live to obey or submit themselves to Christ show before the world that faith in God thrives. Contrary to what the world dictates, faith is never out of fashion. The world on the other hand will continuously oppose the Christian faith.
As Christ said, If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me first before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. (John 15:18-20)
The world is up to harass us regardless of the positive changes and favors that God has brought into our lives. But God tells us, Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)
Through this, we light the world. And its evil works are exposed. Either the people will begin to come to the light and believe Christ. Or they will draw back in disgust.
We are called not only to get saved. We are also called to serve, to help others get to know Christ and be saved. We will be able to do so only if we will not allow our own will to obstruct the divine will. Only then we can die to ourselves and let God rule our lives so that He can move in the life of others through us.
1. Read John 12:24. What does Jesus mean?
2. In what ways can you tell that you have died to yourself so that Christ can live in you?
We can never know what it is to live for Christ unless we die to ourselves.