Bible Reading: Mark 8:34-38
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35)
To follow Christ means to lose our old sinful self and our old ways of life. If we live to try and save our old ways of life, we will lose the eternal life that Jesus offers. However, we will save ourselves if we give up our old ways.
There are two ways to live on this earth. You can follow the world and seek acceptance, honour, comfort and life on earth, or you can follow Jesus and walk in His footsteps of opposition, shame, suffering and death. One way of life seems entirely reasonable, and the other seems out of touch.
Why would anyone want to give up their life for death? The only reason is if there is something far better behind all the suffering and shame. In Christ, there is.
When we see the world through our sinful lens, we think that pursuing acceptance from sinners, honour amongst crooks, comfort in sin, and a life doing what we want is the all-satisfying answer and purpose to life.
But, Jesus calls, “follow me” because that is a lie! There is a far higher glory and satisfaction to be endured — getting to know and walk with God our creator.
However, God and sin are complete opposites. In fact, God hates sin and being sinners, we are rebels before God. We cannot think that we are able to enjoy the best of both worlds. We cannot serve two masters. We must choose if we will follow the world or if we will follow God.
To follow God means to give up control of our lives and give up our worldly pursuits for acceptance, honour, comfort and earthly life. In this sense, we lose the life of our old selves. But, in this, we save our lives because in denying ourselves, we find who we truly are. We were not created for earthly pleasure. We were designed to worship God and enjoy a relationship with Him. Only if we lose our old self will we be able to return to enjoy the company of God in holiness.
If we choose to lose ourselves, the world will hate us because we are no longer its own. As Jesus bore the cross of obedience in opposition, shame, suffering and ultimately death, so we will be persecuted, cornered, silenced, and mocked. This is the cost of following Christ.
However, what we gain in return is unspeakable. We get to become God’s children. Sinners condemned to eternal death, we are forgiven, given eternal life. We who were enemies with God are now reconciled. We become the apple of God’s eye. He cares for us and will make sure all things work for our ultimate good. No one will ever take us away from His side because He has chosen to love us. We are His forever and get to enjoy Him forever.
As Jesus called His children back then, Jesus calls to you today, “follow me”.
Lord, please teach us what it means to follow You. Help us see and live out that You are more worthy than anything this world has to offer. Teach us to lose our old self so that we may gain the true life we were meant to have in You. Teach us to know that a relationship with You is the most precious thing we would ever have. Have mercy on us and give us victory over our worldly ways. In Jesus’ name, amen.