“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26 NASB)
Over the last week or so it has been heavier on my heart the astounding reality that there are so many of us that proclaim to be living for Christ, that say we are saved but still appear to be so much like the world. In the things we entertain, actions, and the words we let come out of our mouths. All of those things wouldn’t have you believe in a God that radically changes and transforms people’s lives. Unfortunately many of us still look so much like the old version of ourselves before we were saved, that I am not even certain what has changed about us. What has changed about us that really causes us to be a whole new creation, actively living in a place where old things have passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17)? Old desires, old mindsets, old habits, or patterns of thinking should pass away, but many of us are living in a place that doesn’t look like that? Why?
I have been saved for 4 years now, and although to some that could seem like a short period of time to attain anything. And to others it would be like a 4 year old telling their adult parent how to live their lives, but unfortunately in this amount of time I have seen people who could be considered “adults” in this Christian walk still appear so much like the world. Even worse, these “adults” have shut their ears to hearing and their hearts to conviction about coming closer to a God that wants us to come completely out of the world (2 Corinthians 6:17). I put Matthew 16:24-26 as the heading scripture for this post because to me it sums up the necessity to not only give up things in this life, but also to face things in this life about ourselves that cause us to feel uncomfortable.
The uncomfortableness we feel when we have to face things and realities about our current choices in life that are not like Christ. For me currently, that’s a daily realization that I cannot walk in anxious thoughts, fear, or worry. I have to choose faith and the word of God over everything else and over any other hypothetical situation that my “planning” mind wants to come up with. I have to choose to trust God over trying to figure things out. And so far I have come to learn important lessons in God’s faithfullness, and I have come to experience the daily peace and joy that is possible for those who choose faith over fear! If for you it’s being angry, mean, or even prideful, that doesn’t mean that we get to wipe that reality out of our mind and walk in a spirit of denial. Although that happens to be your current reality, it doesn’t mean that you will stay there. By faith and trust in God we all can be delivered, set free and made whole with each step of the way. Just because something seems uncomely doesn’t mean that it’s not above our God to fix it and make us whole!
Where many of us stop is at the explanation stage. I call it that because we’ve either grown accostom to the reasons why we act out in anger, lust, or meanness. We’ve grown accostum to what happened to us to make us that way, or we discover what has made us that way and we want to point the finger at that thing or person for making us this way the rest of our lives. Identifying the reasoning behind our issues is great but we can’t use it as a crutch for the rest of our lives. This gives us an excuse to stay bound and needing those crutches, when God wants to provide healing for us to be made whole! For many of us this is the reason behind why we aren’t allowing the radical, life-transforming love of God change our lives. Why there’s some parts of us that believe God, but then buckle under pressure as soon as we think about how “fun” it would be to go out again, or how it’s fine to cuss in front of people that we don’t think will hold us to a higher standard, or not step out on faith if God tells us to leave our comfortable jobs.
I want to encourage us to look at our lives (myself included), and really see in what ways have we not said yes to God? What ways have we been limiting the possibility of God’s goodness in our lives? That may cause us to face some of those giants in our lives, and walk through them in victory by the power of God’s word. The wonderful part about that is that you will be set free from that area of bondage! You will begin to look more like Christ! My desire and my prayer is that there are more sold out Christians. Christians who look more like Christ than the world. And if you already are that, my prayer is that you stand strong in the presence of those that may still be finding the courage to be a son and daughter of God despite of what is happening around them.