Denying Self Remains Our Call Even During a Pandemic

Hey Church family: Living in these chaotic times can lead to lives that are obsessed with self and survival. Generally, in the USA we are obsessed with surviving and yet Jesus still calls us to “deny ourselves, take up your cross and follow Me (Luke 9:23).” Does Jesus’ command for us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him still pertain to times of world hardships and pandemic? Absolutely! Jesus gave His Apostles this command during the last year of His life on the way to the cross, while also knowing that the Apostles live’s would be required of them in the years to come. During these times of hardships and crisis is when Jesus’ call to live out self-denial is most needed. Whether you have quarantined yourself or not, as believers we stand called by Christ to deny ourselves, take our cross daily and follow Him. Sometimes denying self looks like being quarantined and sometimes it looks like not being quarantined. Both choices can be a denial of self. A pandemic does not release us from Christ’s imperative on us to work out our own self-denial.
Self-denial is hard to live out in a pandemic, yet it is the very heart of Christian discipleship. When we deny ourselves we will seek the endless pleasures in Christ more than the temporary pleasures of the world and then what follows is peace that dominates our lives. When we deny ourselves we will seek our security in our King, Jesus Christ, rather than the false security of the world and its systems and then anxiety will start to dissipate. When we deny ourselves we will put aside whatever part of this world or our flesh that rivals Jesus Christ being King in our heart and then selfishness dies. Denying self means that Jesus is the hinge on which our life’s door swings instead of ourselves being the hinge.
 
Self-denial is the totality of the Christian life. Only when we deny self can we then take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ. Our self-centered flesh will always choose to honor and serve itself instead of Christ. When we hear our flesh cry out to be honored and made king, we must say, “Flesh you are no longer in charge!” Our flesh does not want us to pick up our cross. Our flesh always wants to be safe, healthy, pleasured and in control. And Jesus comes along and says, “deny yourself so that you can take up your cross and follow me.”
 
Only when self-denial happens can we take up our cross daily without grumbling, complaining, fear or cowardice. Taking up your cross is treasuring Jesus more than treasuring your own life. Taking up your cross is a willingness to die for the cause of Jesus Christ. Our culture says, maximize your life, Jesus says lose your life. This is so counter-cultural to our culture, even counter to modern day evangelicalism, it is tough to fully comprehend and grasp. But, please, let us strive to live out this imperative from Jesus Christ during this pandemic when self-denial may be the last thing on our minds.
 
I hope that you join us for live-stream worship this Sunday morning at 10am on this link www.facebook.com/GCTopsail. Just click on the blue link and you will be at our Sunday worship. We should be live by 9:55am.
 
Luke 9:23-24 And He said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
In Christ, Steve

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