Luke 9:23 presents one of the greatest, direct, over-arching challenges to us in clear form. Jesus is saying, if you’re going to follow me, die to self.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
In a recent worship service, we were challenged to put everything aside apart from our focus on worshiping our heavenly father. Something was stated to the effect of “anything other than this, makes the worship about us, and not about God”.
This theme led me to once again realize that selfishness is at the root of most, if not all sin.
Selfishness manifests itself in many forms. We see people claiming to be Christ followers yet criticizing the church for preaching Biblical truth. I only see human selfishness in these arguments and it breaks my heart. Political standoffs, words of hurt, rock stars calling on Jesus but every other word points to himself or herself as someone almighty, and social media blasts clamoring on and on.
But hold on… before we get too upset over these things, do not forget that it is the ploy of the evil one to deceive and cause dissension – especially within the church. Jesus has already won. He defeated death, he defeated sin. We have love. We have the words of Jesus. We have this command:
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44)
It is a dark world to spiral into when we start thinking that some other human is the problem as this leads to blame, gossip, anger, retaliation, and even hatred. We cannot fall into the trap. When we judge our enemies we become hypocrites as we are basically making it about us. Revenge is his.
Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand,
and their doom comes swiftly. (Deuteronomy 32:35)
Father God, please show me where I am selfish, where I need to die to self, where I need to pick up my cross and follow you, and you alone. Amen.