The Currency of Self
The Currency of Self
Words of Faith 10-2-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:  "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-- yes, even his own life he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
The first currency of discipleship that Jesus mentioned was that of family. The second currency by which the cost of discipleship is counted is that of self. "Taking up a cross" implied a sacrifice of self. It costs us our self to follow Jesus. Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
The order of things here is interesting, isn't it? Our modern logic might place self-sacrifice ahead of the sacrifices of family. We tend to value self above all in our culture. But in the ancient world, family was far more important than self. Family honor was everything. Extended families lived under the same roof. Marriages were arranged so as to honor and benefit family. Parents sacrificed for their children and children cared for parents until death. One would gladly sacrifice self for family.
It is a modern societal innovation that puts self ahead of family. Ancient Judaism would have been puzzled by the idea of putting personal happiness ahead of family honor. The idea of spending "me time" as a priority ahead of time with family would not make sense. To this day, people in the middle east cultures do not understand the western concept of allowing society to take on any responsibility whatsoever for the care of aging parents. We can see why "family" was the first currency that Jesus mentioned, but the second was self.
"Cross-bearing" was synonymous with self-denial. Jesus had made this clear. "He said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me'" (Luke 9:23; Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34).
This is what discipleship comes down to. It is not about melodic praise and worship services, as delightful as they are. It is not about thoughtful Bible studies among thoughtful people or special times of contemplative prayer. These are certainly the joys and pleasures of discipleship but not the costs. Discipleship is about self-denial and taking up a cross.
What does this mean in practicality? It means first that the call of God is always ahead of the call of me. Surrender is the beginning point of our walk with God but it is also our end point and everything in between. Following Jesus is never about what I want; it is always about what God wants.
Discipleship is never about getting my way or grabbing my blessing, though the blessings may be great and many. Discipleship is always about trusting God and obeying His Word and plan. It is about putting others ahead of ourselves in humility. Greatness in God's Kingdom is measured in servanthood.
Cross bearing is not easy. We are not talking about dragging a cross down the street in order to create a spectacle of self. But we are talking about increasingly difficult areas of life where we are called to press forward. It may be some particularly difficult area of servanthood. It may be a person, a job, an affliction or a particular mission. There is something that Jesus will uniquely call you to carry for Him.
He does not call us to carry anything that He has not already carried or that He does not give us strength to bear. Yes, there are blessings along the way. But a "faith" that has been stripped of the cross, and the central call of Jesus to take up a cross and follow Him, is simply not Christian. Fundamentally, what does it cost to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? It costs us our self as we listen to God and serve others.
Does walking after Jesus mean that we lose our sense of self? No, just that we surrender it. Does walking in surrender mean that we lose our individuality or uniqueness? Not at all, for God uses our uniqueness all the time. God made each of us with a special set of gifts, talents and experiences so that He could use us in particular ways for His will and plan.
But walking after Jesus does mean surrendering our gifts, talents, experiences, preferences, temperaments and penchants in favor of Him and His will. When we are tempted to say to God "that's just the way I am,” this is exactly the area that God is going to be working in us to surrender.
How are you doing in your walk with Jesus? Have you surrendered the cost in the currency of family and self? Are you surrendered to Him?
Father God, I want to be wholly Yours but such a thought is frightening. Give me the deep faith that will allow me to surrender everything to You. Give me the deep faith to be able to trust that You love my family more than I do, and You love me more than I ever could. I am Your. In Jesus' name.