Can we really go that far?
Can we really say God wants what’s best for us? All the time? In every circumstance?
Many of his words are positive and reassuring. Full of tender love and care.
The Father delights to give good gifts to his children, right?
But when Jesus says, “Deny yourself,” things seem to take a turn.
Take up your cross.
Be willing and ready to lose your life.
Those words aren’t so positive. They sound like “sacrifice” instead of “good gifts.”
Like we’re to exchange that which is gracious and pleasing for something disappointing and painful.
Could it be that Jesus wants us to give up what’s best for something less?
It may seem that way at times. Until we consider the alternative.
See, if we validate ourselves and reject the cross, we may save our lives.
But that’s exactly how we’ll lose them.
And Jesus knows you can have this whole world – and have nothing.
It brings no profit, and it destroys many a priceless soul.
Jesus doesn’t want us to lose our lives, so in a strange and beautiful irony, he calls for us to lose our lives.
Jesus doesn’t want us to forfeit our souls, so he spells it out:
Deny yourself, take up your cross, and give up the whole world. Including your very life.
Not because he’s taking everything away. Not because he doesn’t love us.
And not because he doesn’t want what’s best for us.
Quite the contrary.
God always wants what’s best.
And these words only prove it:
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.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
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