“Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.” (MATTHEW 16:24)
We discussed, to some degree, in the previous post what is like to be “Christianly, even in the small things” as well as “how much of my life do I give to Christ?” Covering these two questions is really no difficult task but we seem to, at least in Western culture, ignore them almost entirely!
There are more and more instances where churches are more conformed to the world than they are to Christ, and this is by no means favorable to God; regardless of how badly we may want to say that we are a “godly” nation. The simple, and sad truth is that we are actually more likened to the great whore than to a godly nation. We sell out, give in to worldly traditions, and are even at the forefront of ungodly movements centered on abominations!
We assume that we are safe because we serve the Lord, when truthfully Christianity in Western culture has more of a tendency to serve the world. How much money is coming in, how many people do we have, are we modern enough, cool enough, appealing enough? You don’t reach people by fitting in with them, and you don’t make disciples of people by looking the coolest. There is a difference between reaching people as they are, and becoming as they are to reach them!
Christ said that if we want to follow Him we have to first deny ourselves, take up our cross, and then follow Him. This speaks to removing self-centered behavior and lifestyles, crucifying ourselves daily (killing the flesh, i.e. sinful nature) to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” and to follow Him; which is by its nature letting Him take the lead in our lives. Paul said, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me,” having an understanding that in order to be Christ-like, he could no longer be Paul-like. (EPHESIANS 4:24, GALATIANS 2:20)
To walk as Christ walked, which we are told to do— making no mistake that it is a command and not a suggestion— we cannot walk as we did before; the word walk meaning live. I love how the NLT puts it, saying “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” Suddenly a picture begins to form when we read this scripture. To be Christ-like, to live Christianly, we have to live as Jesus lived! (1 JOHN 2:6)
Paul went even further, telling the Corinthians “you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” There are dozens more scriptures to back these up, but by now we should have an idea of what it looks like to live a Christianly life; even in the small things. It looks like Christ. How did He approach situations, people, ideas, arguments, opinions, sin, and even death? How did Christ think, speak, and act in any given situation or environment? Do my actions reflect that? All of these are questions that we should be asking ourselves daily! (1 CORINTHIANS 11:1)
This particular question, “How do we live a Christianly life, even in the small things,” absolutely requires us to look into ourselves and see how much we are willing to give; because it requires absolute sacrifice of ourselves; were that not the case, He would not have told us to deny ourselves, and Paul would not have written that it is not us who lives but Christ Who lives in us. If it is I who lives, then it is I who is controlling the reigns and I am living after myself. If it is Christ Who lives, then I have submitted to Him and He has taken over the reigns. How else can we guarantee that our paths are straight, except that we let Him be the One Who walks them before us, obediently following His every step?
I try to make these posts, articles, or whatever you want to call them as simple to understand as possible so that there is no confusion. It really is not that difficult. The scriptures tell us that “we love because He first loved us.” Do we actually understand how remarkably true this is? We are, because He is! Our identity, our purpose, our hope, our future, our very lives come from Him and not from ourselves! Why then, are we wasting time trying to live our lives according to ourselves? Even worse still, why are we not standing against and “casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself above the knowledge of God,” or as another translation puts it “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (1 JOHN 4:19, 2 CORINTHIANS 10:5)
When did we forget that we are actually supposed to obey Christ? Sad as it may be it is true that, in Western culture at least, Christians are more apt to obey themselves or the culture they live in; giving in, and conforming to the lifestyles of those around them instead of the One Who lives in them. One could even argue that if they are conformed to the world then He does not really even live in them. He did say that “we can be sure that we know Him if we obey His commandments. If someone claims, ‘I know God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.”
and further still, Christ said Himself, “If you love Me, you will obey My commandments.”
(1 JOHN 2:4, JOHN 14:15)
So then, in conclusion, to live “Christianly even in the small things” is to live a life that is Christ-like; in order to do so we have to first get rid of ourselves, our own old nature and put on His new nature which is created in His image and not our own!
Beloved, I urge you to ask yourself these questions! Set aside me, or my words, and look at Him and His Word! Ask yourself earnestly; “Am I living as He lived?” Slow down for a moment and ask yourself “How much of my life do I give to Christ?” He does command our complete surrender. We may never be perfect on our own, but if it is Him Who lives and not ourselves, then we need not worry about that anyway. He is perfect! Don’t become so conscious of the world and its ways and things, that you lose sight of the One Who gives you life; Who is your life!
As I close this post, I will leave you with this. Put yourself in the scriptures, because He is most certainly talking to you! Ask yourself these questions, and put yourself in the midst of them! “Have I denied myself, and taken up my cross? Am I truly following Him, or myself and my own opinions and desires?”
This post is shorter than most, a decision I made because I usually type a lot and I want to take into consideration the time of those who read my posts on here. If you do have any questions, please feel free to ask! I pray that you are blessed by this, as with every other piece that I write, but never forget that we are each responsible for seeking Him and for working out our “own salvation with fear and trembling.” Treat this with the utmost reverence, and earnestness, because we will be held accountable for it one day. I appreciate you all! God bless! (PHILIPPIANS 2:12)