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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Christianity is not all about you

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34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”-Mark 8: 34-38

This is one of those passages that every Christian should know by heart.  If you want to understand what it means to be a Christian, then learn this passage.  The great German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer paraphrased this passage thus, "when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."  Later, Bonhoeffer was murdered by the Nazis because he had been a part of a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler.  So he was serious.  

 Does that mean that you, today, are being called to literally die?  And what is your cross to bear? These are key questions for us so let me address them in order.  The answer to the first question is an unequivocal "yes."  Yes, you are being called to die.  But not necessarily in the way you think.  At my conference this week we were in worship and we doing a litany (there were a lot of litanies) and in it we were encouraged to pray for areas of our life which God needs to "trouble."  In other words, there are areas of our lives where we need death.   We need to die to all areas of our lives which separate us from God.  Consider that for a moment.

Then consider your cross.  Let me tell you what your cross is not, and you will hear more about this on Sunday.  It is NOT a disease, a financial hardship, an addiction, an unhealthy relationship or anything of the sort.  These are bad things which
happen to you.  Your cross is a ministry or service

 you take up in your desire to follow Jesus, and it may be an incredible burden for some or a moderate inconvenience for others, but we are all called to carry it.  It is the sacrifice you make to serve Christ.  Since this is longer than most e-votionals, I am going to stop now, but don't forget, Christianity is not all about you.

Prayer:  Holy God, please help me to find the cross you wish me to bear in my life, and help me to carry it.  I want to follow and serve you and I want to hasten the kingdom of God.  I pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

 [Phillip Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]


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