Monday, January 31, 2011
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Lately I’ve been contemplating Christ’s call to self-denial. All men naturally love self and the most basic essence of sin is self-love and living a self-directed life without regard to the rightful rule of God. Christ’s call to self-denial is a radical break from what we would naturally want to do. It’s an about-face command to go the opposite direction that we have been going in.
It is a constant challenge to us, even as Christians, to abide under the yoke of Christ. To follow where He leads rather than living for ourselves. We forget that He is the Good Shepherd and would never lead us except to what are ultimately greener pastures. But in our sinful distrust we think we know what is better for us. Discipleship is coming to the realization that Christ’s purpose is all that really matters and we are most happy when we follow after Him.
In his book, True Discipleship, William MacDonald quotes an American college student, converted to communism and writing from Mexico to his fiancée to break off their engagement:
We communists have a philosophy of life which no amount of money can buy. We have a cause to fight for, a definite purpose in life. We subordinate our petty personal selves into a great movement... compensated by the thought that each of us...is contributing to something new and true and better for mankind. The communist cause is my life, my bread, and meat. I work at it in the daytime and dream of it at night....Therefore, I cannot carry on a friendship, a love affair, or even a conversation without relating to this force which both drives and guides my life. I evaluate people, books, ideas, actions according to how they affect the communist cause . . . . I've already been in jail for communism...if necessary I'm ready to go before a firing squad.
Isn’t the cause of Christ far better and greater than anything else we could give ourselves to? Why don’t we place our entertainment and comfort beneath the cause of Christ and give ourselves to what is really worth living for, even dying for if need be? Dying? Yes, Christ expected that His disciples’ lives be expendable for Him and that each take up his cross, ready if need be to die (Matt 10:38-39; 16:24; Luke 14:26-27). The most repeated verse in the New Testament is "whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt 16:25; 10:39; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25).
Christ commanded the original twelve to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel . . ." (Mark 16:15) and thereby to make more disciples, "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you" (Matt 28:20). Obviously the "all things" new disciples were to be taught included that they also make disciples and teach them "all things" Christ had commanded the original twelve. In other words, each new disciple is responsible to make other disciples and to teach them to observe all things Christ commanded the original twelve (Matt 28:20). One can hardly tell others to do what one neglects to do oneself.
Along with Christ’s "follow Me" was His promise, "and I will make you fishers of men" (Matt 4:19). Yet many who call themselves Christians have little concern for winning the lost to Christ, instead letting days and even weeks go by without telling another person about Christ and the salvation which He obtained at Calvary and offers to all.
How about you? Are you denying self and making Christ’s purpose your own? This is His purpose for you. Will you receive it? Jesus prayed to His Father, "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world" (John 17:18). The purpose for which the Father sent the son into the world—to gather a people for His name—is the same purpose for which you and I are sent into the world. This is our mission. Will you choose to accept it?
Maybe you desire to but don’t know how. No problem. You can find a practical training manual in personal evangelism at www.frontlinemin.org/wwf.asp. Following Christ in evangelism isn’t easy, but then again, nothing worth doing is easy. The Lord Jesus promises to be with us as we seek to be obedient to His mission: "Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matt 28:20b, HCSB).