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The Cost of Following Jesus

(Mark 8:27 - 9:1)

Lesson 5 -- second quarter 1998
March 29, 1998

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1998, Christian Light Publications

Do you know how to deny yourself? Self wants supremacy more than anything else. Self is very much self-aware, self-centered and selfish. Self naturally yields to no one and denies itself nothing. To deny self effectively we must acknowledge Jesus as Lord. To deny self we must learn to love others. Thus, the simplest spelling for self-denial is ...

Do you know how to take up your cross? Just as a gas chamber isn't about refueling and an electric chair isn't about getting energy recharged, so a cross isn't about elevating self. Gas chambers, electric chairs and crosses mark the end of the road. Only corpses are removed from them. They are all about death. To take up your cross is to say, "Every time my self tries to resurrect, this is where I'm going to put it. Every time my will crosses with the Lord's, I will choose His."

Do you know how to follow Jesus? Obeying rules and keeping commandments--can that possibly be following Jesus? Reading the Bible and praying often--might that be following Jesus? Going to church and serving others (even and especially family members)--is that how we follow Jesus? Well, no, not really. Those who follow Jesus do these things, alright, but that's because...they follow Jesus! To follow Jesus is to live as He lives, love as He loves, think as He thinks. To follow Jesus is to let Him live in us, and to live through us. To follow Jesus is to daily seek Him and His will. Following Jesus is neither natural nor easy for us, but thankfully, "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13)!

Do you know how to lose your life for His sake and the Gospel's? Well, I suppose you could die a martyr somewhere. Or you could be involved in the Lord's work and die on the job somehow. You might even serve in a leprosy or AIDS ward, and die from one of those diseases. And each of these could be quite noble and noteworthy. But not any more so than giving up your life (every day!) at home and in your community. You see, giving up your life very much encompasses saying "no" to yourself and your interests, and "yes" to others and their interests...for the sake of Jesus and the advancement and enhancement of the Gospel.

What is the profit in gaining the whole world and losing your soul? Zero. Gaining the whole world and losing your soul constitutes the worst non-profit endeavor ever. Tragically, many get into this kind of business through sheer carelessness. They neglect their spiritual life just a little bit, here and there, once in a while. They allow only trace amounts of covetousness and earthly ambition. At first. "Soul, be on thy guard!" These things are deadly! Never sacrifice good for gain, nor principle for profit...because such gains and profits are only illusory, and the cost paid always greatly exceeds the given list price.

What will you give in exchange for your soul? My friend, the answer on this one doesn't really come from your lips. The answer resounds from your life. What do your values, your goals, your deeds and your ambitions reveal about what you are giving in exchange for your soul? Each day as we transact this business of life, we engage in exchanges for our souls. Let's be good stewards.

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