"Follow Me and die"
Rightly or wrongly, nothing seems to drive me madder than the church disgracing the name of its Saviour. Two recent news stories set me off: the revelations of systematic abuse of children in the church's care in Ireland, and the Church of Scotland's decision to allow the ordination of practising homosexuals. Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying those two things are of equal value, but as I thought about them I found myself concluding they came from the same root.
There is no sense of the protagonists in these stories dying to themselves.
'Do I really have to die?'
Look at the symbol of our faith, look at it. What is it? It's a cross. What does that mean? It means death, it means His agony, it means His death. It's not an interesting metaphor, it's not an inspiring message, it is the blood and sweat of God for your sins. He died for you. And He tells you to do the same for Him: "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24). And yet you continue in your own way whilst claiming Him as your Lord? Moreover, He has made this possible for you: "our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin" (Romans 6:1-14).
Dietrich Bonhoeffor famously said, "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." There seems to be none of that here. Instead we find the infantile insistence that personal preference be the determinate of how a person lives, not the clearly revealed word of God which convicts us of our sins.
Count the cost, all of us
Lest I say such things and fail to examine myself carefully for any similar sinful selfishness, let me read and recommend some provoking words from C.S. Lewis on counting the cost.