Mark 8: 34-35 “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Well Mark 8 does not say: Whoever would like to come after Me, may deny himself if he wants to, may take up his cross if that is ok. That passage about losing your life for Jesus and that loss is what will save your life is pretty hardcore. Could we please take a vote on that????
John Bevere, in his book Good or God?, has written some difficult pages in Chapter 4, in a little section of his book entitled “Deny Yourself.”
I usually try to post every other day but this section is so basic to his message and it is so difficult to write about that I have had to take extra time to think about today’s post. It may offend some readers but this is not a democracy…or is it?
At least our world in America is supposed to be a democracy.
Let’s stop and highlight a word in the previous sentence.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But My kingdom is not from the world” [John 18: 36].
Then Bevere says this “I’ve discovered this [commitment to God’s kingdom] is a difficult concept for westerners to grasp. I believe the reason for this is that we are a people trying to understand Kingdom principles with a democratic mindset.”
What does he mean?
When Jesus says you have to deny your worldly desires to be a true follower, that is what He means.
Take up your cross; no ifs, ands or buts. You cannot partially take up your cross or take it up and then put it down when it gets too heavy.
You have to lose your life to follow Jesus, meaning that you do not have to literally lose your life but you have to lose the trappings of the life you lead.
You see, our Lord is a dictator, a benevolent dictator, but a dictator none the less.
And democracy is a government by the people, a government in which the voting public has the power. We elect people who are supposed to exercise power at the highest level on our behalf. They are our “elected agents.”
If we don’t like something, what do we do? We can discuss it and try to change it. You know we have “inalienable” rights and a right to express our beliefs [our freedom of speech].
Jesus says in His Father’s Kingdom, we cannot serve two masters. You have to choose, either my Kingdom or your world. When our earthly desires begin to direct us and the Word of God says otherwise, what are we going to do? Being independent and putting it to a vote does not work in God’s Kingdom.
In Luke 6:46, Jesus says “Why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say.” I think what Luke is saying is why don’t we refer to Jesus as the great teacher, the great ideas person or the guy with the good suggestions if we choose to not follow His directions.
We are human and capable of great sin born of the desire to be in the driver’s seat, deciding what is best for our lives. Too often we find ourselves just mouthing the words of the believer but we don’t really want to change. We don’t want to follow new directives, thank you very much.
Bevere says “If we carry our democratic mindset into our walk with God, we’ll have nothing more than a make believe relationship [with God]”. He comments further: “This form of government [democracy] has been successful in the United States because it’s a system designed for mortal people living in a pluralistic society” .
People who are not believers struggle with this Kingdom of God concept and the idea that Christians are not of this world. Christians struggle with the idea that God demands we live by His rules and not the rules of this world.
Yes, when Jesus says deny yourself, that is what He means.
When He says take up your cross, he means take up your cross.
When He says lose the ways of this world [lose your life], He means lose your life.
For the true believer, this world is not our true home. It never will be.
The good news, when you lose your life, pay attention to the last part of Mark above…
You save it…