Thursday, August 21, 2014
Serving Self or Dying to Self? The Narrow Way...
Jesus walked the path of His life doing the Father's will. He obeyed, walking to the cross for us. He was a grain of wheat that fell, died and bore much fruit. His life's message was serving, dying to self, and living the message of love. This is not a sacrifice to be taken lightly, or a way of life to be ignored. For Christians, it should be THE way of life.
"Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." Romans 6:8
These days Christianity is not so much focused on dying to self, serving our families and loving others. There is a hyper-focus on attending "leadership seminars" "being your authentic self classes" and various other activities that activate strong emotions but leave no lasting, deep effect on our hearts for Christ. We leave them just as broken and confused as before because we are looking to the wrong source--activities---to heal us, forgetting that Christ died to heal us, if we will only turn to Him and Him alone, He will do His work in us.
"He must increase, but I must decrease.”John 3:30
As Jesus works in our lives, healing us, He shows us areas of our hearts that need mending and the areas that are to be crucified with Him. We leave behind the old focus on self, and we focus on Jesus and the work He has for us. This work is selfless and many times hard and difficult. Yet as we become the grain of wheat that falls to the earth and dies, we begin to bear fruit. Our selfishness dies, and Jesus reigns. Our actions begin to reflect this, and old sinful habits and thoughts begin to die away.
"But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Galations 6:14
God's ways are perfect and holy, they lead to a peaceful way of life. Serving ourselves and our own goals, a hyper focus on accomplishments and image, this is serving the idol we have made of ourselves, a golden calf that needs to be torn down. Focusing on ourselves leads to a lack of true fulfillment and peace because it will never satisfy the thirst we have for true meaning. Self bounces around from one thing to the next, feeling less and less satisfied and yet building up it's idols even bigger than before.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17
The meaning we are searching for is found in Jesus death on the cross. He is our meaning, He is our guide, counselor, comforter, source of life. As we abide in Him, we find real and lasting meaning for this life and we have the hope of eternity. Dying to our selfishness, learning to serve, and walking the narrow path with Christ includes death to our old nature. Accepting Jesus into our lives is not a decision that produces instant gratification. He becomes Lord of our life and we live for Him. We begin to tread the life giving, narrow way with Christ.
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:4-5
As we abide in Christ, we learn to do the Father's will, and this becomes the goal of our life. Power, fame, fortune and accomplishments all fade into the background. This is how Christ lived, loving, serving, healing, and being God's instrument. As we follow Jesus in this way, we are promised joy that is lasting and doesn't fade away. This type of joy is mostly hidden and unknown to the world that tells us to seek after everything else to find it's false and fragile happiness. There is healing, life, joy and wisdom when we live God's way. He set the way for us so that we would find life, not search for years and years to find any path that "seems" to feel right.
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." John 15: 9-11
Abiding in Christ, walking the narrow way, listening to His voice, and dying to self, this is the path of abundant life. We serve others, not self, and know the fullness of what it is to believe in a Savior who died to self and was resurrected again to life. We should earnestly seek to enter the narrow gate and follow God's ways no matter the cost. Jesus did not say that "the gate is wide" because His ways are not the worlds ways; many do not want to put forth the effort to find them. The gate of selfishness is wide, many enter there and find death and decay. Jesus way leads to the only true life there is.
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many." Matthew 7:13
Prayer: "Jesus, be Lord of my life. Do your work in me, crucify my sin and wrong, selfish desires and attitudes. Show me your true path of life. Give me discernment and wisdom to stay on the path with you so that I am not swayed by lies. Show me the way of real, lasting life. Amen."
"And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." Romans 8:17
"But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24
"Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began..." 2 Timothy 1:9