Hi everyone, Rob here. In Mark 8:34-35 Jesus says:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Today I am wrestling with the fact that we seem to have become addicted to small pleasures. I include myself in this. The double shot latte; the large flat-screen TV with Home Theatre system; a glass of wine with dinner; the late-model car; large, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing homes all seem to have become things we have to have. Our ability to consume pleasure and comfort has increased ten-fold in the last twenty years or so and yet… And yet, the quality of our relationships seems to have decreased at the same rate that our comfort levels have increased. The size of our homes have doubled but our families are being cut in half.
The problem is not the small pleasures per se but what they represent. We seem to have made ‘a comfortable lifestyle’ our main goal in life and it has become an idol as a result. I look at Jesus’ words about taking up our cross and I think we’re about as far from that as we could possibly be. Those of us in the affluent West have lost our bearings. We have lost sight of the heroic mission that God has given us; to be intimate allies of King Jesus and join him in pushing back the forces of darkness and evil that permeate this planet that God loves.
I’m not talking about a mere lifestyle change. I’m talking about ensuring that our total allegiance belongs to Christ and Christ alone. I’m talking about dying to ourselves and being raised with Christ. I’m talking about being whole-hearted in our pursuit of holiness and wholeness in Christ. This does not mean a lead a miserable, pleasure-free life! Far from it! Check out Romans 6:1-4 in the Message paraphrase:
“If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace – a new life in a new land!
That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.”
That doesn’t sound like misery to me! That sounds like life in all its fullness. It sounds like the deepest desire of our hearts. But it starts at the cross. It starts with dying to ourselves and our self-centred comforts and pleasures. When we’ve done that God can then fill us with a renewed desire to fulfil his mission; to bring people into his kingdom and to re-create this fallen world through his Son, Jesus Christ. Our life is his and it is life – life in all its fullness. Join me in making the commitment to give our lives over to Jesus, our Lord and friend so that we may be filled with his life for the sake of his kingdom and for the sake of this world.