I do love my life. I love that I have a comfy home in which to live. I love that I can go and buy things that aren’t just necessities. I love that my children are healthy and happy. I love that I have a hard-working husband with whom I can share life. I love the beautiful sunny and warm state in which we live. I love this season of life when most of the birdies have launched from the nest and I can slow down and relax—choosing to spend the majority of my time doing things that I enjoy.
But, do I love my life too much? Have I forgotten God’s call for me to take up my cross, forgo the trappings of this temporary life, and follow Him? Have I been willing to make sacrifices of time, money, convenience and pleasure to further His mission in the world? How about you? Does your life bear any evidence of self-sacrifice? Have you come to love the pleasures of this world more than God?
God’s Word has a lot to say about the danger of loving this world too much. In John 12:25, after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus spoke to his followers saying, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me; and where I am there my servant will be also. If anyone serves me, him my Father will honor.”
When Jesus spoke these words, he was foreshadowing his impending death on the cross and also letting his disciples know that they risked actual death in following Him. But, this is also applicable to us today as we seek to follow Christ. We are called to live with a passion and devotion for Him that is greater than the love we have for things of the world—greater even than our love for our own family.
In Matthew 10:37-39, Jesus says, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”
You see, when someone becomes a Christian they often experience conflict within their family because of it. I have heard countless friends talk about the problems they’ve encountered when trying to talk about Christ, or faith, or even church with their unsaved family members. Unfortunately, becoming a devoted and fervent Christ-follower will often mean a separation of sorts from family who would hinder your relationship with Christ. In addition—on this concept of loving God more than family—we as parents can sometimes, without realizing it, set our children up as idols, loving them even more than God himself.
There are several passages in the gospels where Jesus talks about taking up our cross and following him. The first is in Matthew 16:24-25: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'”
The exact same message of taking up our cross and losing our lives for the sake of Christ is repeated in Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23.
This message implies a life of sacrifice and struggle as Christians seek to share God’s love and hope with the lost world. It is not supposed to be easy, my friend. And coming to love the world too much as we go through life can certainly derail our mission.
The hypnotic rhythm of comfort and affluence is a tactic often used by Satan to strengthen our love for the world and to make us ineffective as Christians.
It takes sacrifice to minister to an elderly neighbor or a sick friend. It takes time and commitment to serve in your local church. It takes courage to speak the name of Jesus in your workplace or neighborhood. It takes self-denial to give money to ministries and missions. And that’s if you never even step outside of the good ol’ USA! There are those who have sacrificed so much more than the average Christian today for the cause of Christ around the world. In fact, many have paid the ultimate price.
Does your life bear evidence of a devotion to Christ that is greater than your love for the world? Have you truly answered God’s call to take up your cross and follow Him?
This Easter season let’s take inventory of our lives. Have we been lulled into a spirit of complacency when it comes to sacrifice and service? What can we leave behind to follow Christ? Are we finished with easy and ready to do hard?
There is no doubt you and I are free to appreciate and enjoy God’s blessings in our lives but, we are also called to give back— to love God more than anything this world has to offer.