Is following Christ all about suffering as much as possible? We do talk a lot about sacrifice, suffering, and self-denial.
After all, Jesus said, “I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 5:30)
He also said that he came, “not to do my will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38)
These statements can seem scary. If we give up all of our desires and pleasures, won’t we shrivel up and die? If I’m going to serve Jesus fully do I always have to be so masochistic and ascetic?
These would be fair questions if what we were given was just a hollow religion, a set of rules and instructions that we were to follow.
But if we’ve received Jesus. We have HIM living inside of us! That means that when we please him, we can actually feel his pleasure. His joy and delight wells up in our own hearts and feels like, well, joy and delight. So, in a way, we end up pleasing ourselves!
When we die to ourselves we give up our petty pleasures and desires…
and we receive God’s incomparable, eternal pleasures and desires.
We empty our pockets of the few ragged bills that are diving down with inflation…
and we receive a compounding, never-ending storehouse of treasure.
Sound like a good exchange?
The pain of the cross is quickly swallowed up by the life of the resurrection.
The mother’s pain of labor is quickly forgotten by the joy of seeing her baby.
In other words, the pain and sacrifice is nothing compared to the joy and thrill of knowing our creator and seeing his fruit.
When we walk with him and give up our lives, plans, possessions, and desires for him and his good news, we get to indulge in his overwhelming, unfailing love and peace.
It’s a depth of love and peace that we could never get anyways if we tried to control your own life and fill ourselves with ‘good’ things. So what do we have to hold on to?
Let go of everything and throw yourself fully in the arms of the One who loves you and cares for you more than any person on earth possible could, more than you could ever imagine.
“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him … I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:8-11)
(After being suffering, being persecuted and driven out of one city the disciples continued on and) “were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:52)