The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I see how much of the Christian life goes totally against my natural instincts. Someone once told me: “If you want to figure out what God’s will is, think of what comes natural. Then think of the opposite of what comes natural. Then see if the Bible doesn’t suggest the opposite of natural is in fact God’s way.”
Let me give you just a few examples of where this is true:
--“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) (Rather than taking revenge or harboring bitterness.)
--“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38) (Rather than hording and not being willing to give even sacrificially if He so leads.)
--“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
Allow me to comment in greater depth on this last passage.
First let me ask this: Do you want to follow Jesus or just admire Him from a distance? Because if you truly want to be a follower of Jesus, He asks us to do some truly amazing things here.
“Deny” in the Greek means that we really reject ourselves! And you know the end of the road for the person who takes up a cross: death by torture!
But the next verse (24) is even more amazing: in the first phrase we have the words “save” and “lose”; likewise we have those identical words in the second phrase, but in reverse order: “lose” and “save.” “Save” is from the Greek “sozo” which is the much-loved word for someone being saved from danger or destruction, but also saved from hell.
We see sozo a lot in Scripture, including in Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” We ALL want to be saved, right? But Jesus is telling us that if our primary goal in life is to be saved or safe, we actually are going to “lose” our life. What does the word “lose” mean in the original? It is the Greek word “apolymi” which means to destroy or kill! So if our primary goal is to be saved, the opposite is going to happen. It likely also includes the person who thinks they can get to heaven on their own without God’s help: they will end up in eternal death.
But here is the clincher: Jesus goes onto say that if we lose (that means destroy or kill!) our lives for Jesus, we will end up saving our lives eternally. Does that hit you like it hits me? Jesus doesn’t want us to just dip our toes in the water, or “sprinkle a little Jesus” on our lives. He wants us to dive in completely without holding back or having any reservations!
We need to choose daily to let Him protect us. We must be totally willing to die today—even physically—if that would be His sovereign will, while it brings glory to Him and helps build His eternal Kingdom.