Today’s scripture was the passage we read in church this morning.
It hit me hard. The words, I have read them before.
The impact, it has never been so heavy.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Do you see that? I am supposed to DENY myself.
Oh yes, that means denying myself the extra cookie, the shirt that is on sale and oh-so-cute.
I should deny myself running an extra mile to make up for the extra cookie.
When the cute guy asks me on a date, but has no relationship with Jesus, I should deny my flesh and tell him “no thank you”.
I should even deny the chance to volunteer for something that seems to be a service for God, when my plate is already too full.
We, as Americans, see this word as only a negative thing.
And when we do use it wisely, as in dieting, we do it for our own glory.
Let me be honest. Denial is something I have very little practice in. I often find myself weak, especially in the food realm. I have struggled for years with my relationship with food. I don’t talk about it with too many people, because quite frankly it is something a lot of people don’t seem to understand. I am thin, I work out a lot, and I tend to eat pretty healthy. But food speaks to my loneliness, my borden, my dissatisfaction with myself. Food calls my name when everyone else is quiet, and I answer, and I am more unsatisfied. You see, I have made food an idol. I love to create with food, but it is something I am learning to deny. There is so much more to this story; so much more for another time.
Brother, sister – what are you needing to deny? What is good and pleasing, but not something necessary?
What is something that is bad, and unfruitful in your life?
Deny yourself dear friend. Deny yourself and search for Christ and you will gain life.
In my case, when I deny myself excess food (please know I never deny myself food unhealthily; I am denying the eating when I am not hungry or the second… or third bowl of ice cream), and ask for Jesus to strengthen me and be the bread of life to my unsatisfied soul, I find life just in the joy of overcoming. And while overcoming, I have turned to a much more satisfying source – one that brings life.