Denying Oneself in This Selfie-Centered World

Here’s a guest post that I originally appeared on Organized Lunacy:

The season of Lent has come and gone, and Facebook and Instagram have exploded with selfies and “groufies” from the previous week’s out of town trips and social gatherings.How many of yours have you posted online?

These days, people would think you’ve been living under a rock if you’ve never taken and posted a selfie. Indeed this time we live in may well be known as the Age of Self-Promotion. Almost everyday we post our faces, what we eat, where we go, and every litte bit of our lives’ details on social media.

Is it still possible today to follow Christ’s call for us to deny ourselves? Let’s have a look at His instructions:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’ (Matthew 16:24-25)

Tough words, but what does Jesus mean by them?

“Whoever wants to be my disciple…”

First, we must understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. The Greek term for “disciple” used in the New Testament is mathetes, which means a “follower,” someone who adheres completely to the teachings of another, making them his rule of life and conduct. Thus a true disciple of Jesus does not merely have a head-level belief in Him, but translates his belief into a life of obedience.

“…must deny themselves…”

This command seems to go against our every natural tendency to preserve and assert ourselves. It runs counter to the culture in which we are now all immersed, where the norm is vanity and entitlement. Apart from the grace of God, denying oneself is impossible!

The apostle Paul says,

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

During the Holy Week, many of us sang and said prayers praising and thanking Jesus for His sacrificial death and His resurrection. Have we gone beyond our “thank you’s” and come to a point of total surrender to Him as Savior and Lord? Have we allowed Him to take over us completely? NO LONGER I, BUT CHRIST WHO LIVES IN ME!

Here’s another very powerful passage:

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

Christ withheld nothing, not even His own life, to give us eternal life, the best gift ever. Are we able to process this sacrifice and soak in this magnificent, incomparable love? Is it enough to make us want to love Him back, to live for Him, to glorify Him with our lives?

“…take up their cross and follow me.”

In Jesus’ day, a cross wasn’t just a symbol of pain and suffering; it was mainly a symbol of death. Thus, taking up our cross means:

  • “Dying to self” — Are we willing to die in order to follow Jesus?
  • Putting to death our own plans and desires — Are we willing to turn our lives over to Him and commit ourselves to His will for our life?

Now you may be saying: That’s all easy to say, but how can we possibly do all that?

Here’s an idea: You know the “selfie stick” that’s so popular today, that gadget you attach to your phone to take broader-view photos of yourself? Why not let that go — literally and figuratively–and instead take hold of the “Un-Selfie Stick” which is the Cross of Christ, the symbol of history’s most ultimate sacrifice?

Imagine what difference it  would make in our lives if we were to look to the cross every single day, and not just during Lent,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2a)

Imagine how we would live if we began each day praying for grace to follow the example of Jesus,

…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

This is the promise made by Jesus:

I have come that they may have life, and life to the full. (John 10:10)

 

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)

Question is, are we willing to give up our selfie-centered life for the life that God wills us to have?

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