Pursuing God

We are, by our own human nature, covetous people. When we see something we like, whether a neighbor’s or an advertisement on TV, we develop a desire to possess it. This, unfortunately, is not just limited to material items, but can also include another person.

How often we use the words “my” or “mine” so that it becomes so routine in our language; all the while subtlety separating us from God by creating a disease within us that changes our hearts to a point where we become clouded by what is really necessary. This was never how things were to be intended, yet now we have become a society where God’s gifts have taken the place of God. We worship the created instead of the Creator.

Jesus addressed this very nature in His earthly ministry when He declared, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it." (Luke 9:23-24)

So what does it actually mean to “deny himself”?

The enemy is always ready to devour us and we are all too tolerant of his ways. We live to self because for most of us here in America we live in abundance. We accumulate “things” in an effort to maintain or elevate our status among other men. We tie our position or title in life to a certain standard of living and work the remainder of our earthly days in an effort to keep our status. In essence, we become slaves to our social class and standing.

We read the words of Matthew 6:21 time and again yet unflinchingly resume our collection of stuff as if these words had no connection to us. We rationalize away that He was simply talking to His disciples 2000 years ago when He was building His team, and therefore that is not as relevant for us today.

And this is the heart of the matter.

Christian or not, we are not willing to give up our earthly pursuit of comfort and pleasure for a life that requires us to consider denial and service as a priority. The words “take up his cross” fall on deaf ears. Or worse, we determine to alter the meaning of taking up one’s cross to simply mean attending church on a regular basis and giving a portion of our income.

We’re trapped and we don’t even realize it. Many of us have become accustomed to a particular lifestyle that our incomes can barely afford and see no way out. We work now just to maintain. The world owns us and we are slaves to it whether we admit it or not.

Yet, this is not what Jesus wants. A little further in the sixth chapter of Matthew is a crystal clear mandate of where our priority needs to be (Matthew 6:33).

As you read this post, I hope you also hear an inner voice screaming the word “PRIDE!” like I do. It’s our own pride that prevents us from adjusting our priorities. Our own pride that keeps us trapped in the things of this world. Pride is the root of so many terrible behaviors, and while the Remedy lies right before us gathering dust, we carry on as any slave would.

Our freedom from the trappings of this world is truly in God’s Word. Only when we choose to deny self can we purposely move towards God. If you are trapped by what the world offers you, pray today to be given the desire to deny self and pursue Him.