"The time for honoring yourself will soon come to an end"
As far as movie lines go, the one quoted above is probably one of my favorites. Given the scene and the story and all that led up to the line itself, the line served as a culmination of fury and a foreshadowing of vengeance to come. In the movie, a gladiator is speaking to an emperor who: never deserved his empirical role, abused his power to gain influence, manipulated others to exalt himself, etc. In other words, it was always about what the emperor wanted. The gladiator wanted to be very clear that there were other needs and wants and desires in the empire of Rome that were entirely more important than the selfish needs and wants of the emperor.
Unfortunately, life isn't like the movies....or is it? For me, I've been coming to a realization for a long time about my relationship with Christ and my own selfish desires. In simpler terms, allow yourself to think of my heart as the gladiator (noble, belonging to God, filled with incredible intentions, filled with a growing love for God, filled with compassion and a growing love for others) and think of my flesh as the emperor (selfish, filled with its own wants, its own desires, its own greed, lust, jealousy, etc). The truth, that my growing desire, love, and trust for God is revealing is, "Flesh, the time for honoring yourself will soon come to an end".
That time is now. For a few weeks now I've really been contemplating what a real relationship with Christ looks like. What steps do I take? What is required of me? What do I do?
I chose a word to meditate on this year: "Sacrifice"
From that word has flowed a myriad of others: surrender, trust, obedience, honor, suffering, and joy, just to name a few.
However, when I think about what is required from me to have a deep and meaningful relationship with God, I only get one word: "Everything". And that is true, when we become followers of Christ, it costs us everything. There will be "sacrifice", there will be surrender, trust, obedience, honor, and joy. There will be suffering. And we are to count that suffering as "joy".
Jesus said "If anyone wishes to come after [follow] Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me" - Luke 9:23.
The path is pretty clear. If you want to follow Jesus, deny yourself, pick up your cross daily and follow Him. That verse isn't very long and it doesn't seem very complicated on the surface. Just deny yourself and carry your cross and follow Him. But dig just a little deeper. If you want to follow Jesus, deny yourself. Deny your selfish motives, deny your selfish wants, your selfish desires. Deny what this loud world tells you is important and realize that without Jesus you have nothing. Nothing. When you've come to this point and you realize that Jesus is the end game here and that nothing here is important if it isn't focused towards Him, then pick up your cross and suffer for Christ. Stand out. Be different from the world. Be radical, or obsessed, or ridiculous, or whatever word you choose to describe it. Just don't be the same.
Maybe I'm talking to myself, maybe I'm talking to you, maybe not. But I am praying. I am praying that all of this moves beyond wishful thinking. I am praying that this is more than just a fleeting thought this time. Heaven is real. Hell is real. Jesus really died for you and I. So what are we doing for Him? I posted on twitter a while back something that sparked this blog post. I'm going to leave it with you here.
The world hated Jesus to the point of crucifixion yet we desire to be followers of Christ while maintaining comfort and approval.
Comment below. I'd love to hear from you and open some dialogue.