Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
Do you know why the devil loves the consumer Christianity that is so prevalent in the church today? It’s because the consumers are sitting on the throne of their lives, having pushed Christ to the periphery. And when Christ has been pushed to the periphery of our lives, we set ourselves adrift on a sea of self-centeredness.
Consumer Christianity is all about ME. The focus in on self rather than the Savior. The consumer comes to church asking, “What will I receive?” . . . “How will I be blessed?” . . . “How will my experience today meet my deepest felt needs?”
Now, please don’t misunderstand me; it is entirely biblical to come to the Fount of every blessing and expect to receive, be blessed, and have your deepest needs met. But when that is our focus, our aim, and our expectation when we come to church, we have completely missed the primary purpose of assembling together as a body of believers. Far too many churches foster a culture of consumer Christianity by communicating a primary message of “Jesus and me” rather than “Jesus and we.” These churches preach to felt needs without setting forth the cost of discipleship.
But this is not for you! Jesus made it abundantly clear that in order to be His disciples we are to deny the self, not focus on it. We are to let go of the reigns of our lives and invite Jesus to guide us in the direction He wants us to go. Trusting in our Savior means we have come to the understanding of what it means to deny the self.
But Jesus did not stop there. He also said we must take up our cross, and that message was not lost on His first century audience. The roads of Rome were lined with crosses that held the dying and deceased victims of Roman “justice.” Jesus was saying we must be willing to not only deny the self, but to die to self. Only in dying to self can we find the life we most desperately desire: a life of significance, meaning, and purpose. And where does that kind of life take us? It takes us wherever Jesus leads us as we follow Him, regardless of the cost or circumstance.
If you have been infected with a bit of consumer Christianity, fear not! The cure is clear. Keep the cross in view—not the cross you are to carry, but the one upon which Jesus was crucified. He took your nails and your crown of thorns and poured out His blood so that He could have an intimate, personal, relationship with you for all eternity.
Remember these words from Peter: “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16 ESV). Christ died to set you free from slavery to selfish desires. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and you will find that all your needs will be given to you as well.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!