I get weary of going into bookstores. If you go into a secular bookstore, they nestle the “Religious/Spirituality” section near the “Self Help/Personal Improvement” department.
Christianity isn’t about Self Help or Personal Improvement. It’s quite the opposite. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
One of my favorite Christian writers of the last century, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, said, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”
I doubt Dietrich or Jesus would be comfortable finding themselves in the Self Improvement aisle at Barnes and Noble.
The Apostles knew that following Jesus wasn’t about getting more stuff in this life, or experiencing more happiness for the here-and-now, or becoming famous among their peers.
Following Jesus, and building a life around his teachings, as well as his death, burial and resurrection, involved losing their lives.
Don’t get me wrong, the Apostles weren’t dark and gloomy. Just the opposite. They were able to face persecution and hardships with grace, strength and peace because they had confidence that Christ was with them, and that he had saved them for something better than this world could offer. But make no mistake about it, their message about Christ included losing your life.
Yes, that’s exactly what God wants for you as well…to LOSE YOUR LIFE.
Your life, built on your selfish values, achieving worldly goals, having a self-centered mindset, isn’t going to get you where God wants to take you.
“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 will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
Jesus, his life, his teachings, and his promises, are the foundation to our Christian existence. They are the substance of our hope! And this is the substance of what the Apostles taught. This is the subject matter that we should be devoted to. We find life when we give up our lives and accept the life Christ died for us to have.
Anything we do, any plan we make, any ambition we set our life’s course to achieve, if not squared with Christ’s calling on our life, is not worth pursuing.
The Apostles knew that the church, in order to grow strong and straight and true to God’s design, had to extend in perfect alignment with the cornerstone.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
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