Last Sunday I preached on Mark 8:34-35. After 8 chapters of preaching, healing, calming storms at a word, and casting out devils, Jesus begins to teach his disciples what being a disciple actually means. And He doesn't mince words:
 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “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 and the gospel's will save it.
With our American mindset, we don't often equate following Jesus with self-denial, a cross and death. In spite of our cultural sensitivities, the Cross is the exact metaphor Jesus intended to use when He described what it is actually supposed to be like in following Him.
However, the invitation Jesus gives us is not really to death, but to life. He calls us to die so that we might experience His actual life in us. That is the Good News. Not only do we get to spend eternity with Jesus, but we now get Him in us.
I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered himself up for me. - Galatians 2:20
Therefore the call to die is really a call to live. Because Christ's purpose in death is always life. So what does that look like here in Dallas, Texas? As the founder of Youth With a Mission, Loren Cunningham terms it, the way we let Christ live in us is by relinquishing our rights to live how we want to live in exchange for how He wants us to live.
Here are some specific areas we can relinquish our rights:
- Freedom - As a believer we lay down our freedom so that Christ can be Lord. One of the primary ways we do this is by giving up our ability to chose the way we want to go. Where you go to church? What house you buy? What job you take? Major Ian Thomas does a great job of describing how this life works out (video below).
- Family - We allow Christ to determine whether we are single or married. In family, we allow Christ to determine when we have kids, how many kids we have and how our kids are added to our family (i.e. Adoption and foster care)
- Reputation - This is a tough one in a day and age in which we are always putting forth our best self on Social Media. The primary way we deal with this is by facing fear of man. At the end of the day, will we care more about what man thinks or what God thinks?
- Culture - This one is tough! The culture pressure we face daily on where we live, the car we drive, where we work, what church we go to, the movies we watch, all are daily choices we have to face. As a Christian the ultimate determining factor of what we allow in our lives is the Kingdom of Heaven, not the American Culture.
- Finances - This is an area we try to control, manipulate, dream about and worry over the most. And the thing is, God is the one who gives us the money - it is His! Our job is to let go of our rights and steward them as He dictates in His word
- Our Very lives! - Could you imagine the alter call on this one? Who is willing to face certain death for Christ? Will you go be a martyr for Christ? Are you willing to lose your very life for the sake of the call? The early church had this expectation and I think it would do the church in America well to have this level of seriousness when thinking about following Jesus.
These are some things to get you thinking. So join me as we die to our dreams, our way, and our hopes and in turn gain the very life of Christ in us!
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. - Colossians 1:27