Mar1SunMarch 1, 2020
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Mark 8: 34b
Jesus asks a lot from us to be his disciples. Jesus is saying that being a Christian doesn't just mean we believe the right things about Jesus, or even claim to love him. Jesus teaches us to live a life of sacrificial service out of gratitude for what he has gained for us out of his sacrifice on the cross—forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
In this season of Lent, we can start to learn about and practice denying ourselves, taking up our own crosses (putting your personal greed and wants aside for the sake of others), and following Christ. Jesus came to give us a real and full life, and we can find that by turning our lives over to him.
It is well known that when we exercise our bodies we are healthier and we feel better. It takes discipline to exercise and we must put time aside on a regular basis to do so. Similarly, as children of God who are dearly loved, it is important that we are disciplined to put time aside to build our spiritual fitness. In obedience to Christ we will not only feel better, but experience the increased joy of God's presence.
Sometimes we limit our Christian practice to building our personal relationship with God, with little action towards serving others. Then our Christian lives can become just another exercise towards serving oneself. When we are obedient to Jesus words to deny oneself, we counter the selfish message of our greed oriented culture, and are in better shape to follow him. In other words, when we practice serving Christ and others, our self-centered selves diminish and we become more free to follow and serve Jesus.
Remember you are loved with a steadfast, everlasting love through Christ - a love which will never let you go, not even in death! Train to live a life of sacrificial service out of gratitude for what he has gained for us out of his sacrifice on the cross - forgiveness of sins and eternal life!
Let this time of lent be an opportunity to get (back) into spiritual shape for Christ.