“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” -Mark 8:34
I still remember the moment I heard the words of Mark 8, grasping their significance for the first time. Sitting amongst peers while at university – I was largely preoccupied by ambition and my pursuit of excellence.
I didn’t know a lot back then about what it means to follow Jesus, but I did know Jesus as the Saviour who pulls little children closer, drowning out harshness with His greatness. His hands had sheltered my heart throughout my youth and brought along gifts of companionship, discipleship, and understanding. I felt cherished by Jesus and it was his inordinate compassion towards me that kept me tethered to Him.
Deny - the word sprang out at me, convicting and exposing me.
What did that mean?
I was well positioned to pursue the American Dream and succeed at it, and denying myself in any way was not really part of the plan. So tangibly struck, I fumbled to respond to those words within our group, finally landing on, “I don’t think I’m doing that”.
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” -Mark 8:35
Oh boy, somehow denying myself was connected to losing my life and that was not anywhere on my to-do list. I was on track for a comfortable life, full of all the perks of a first-world society, with no regard for the reality that no one avoids suffering anyway...