Who will you serve – the world or Christ?
Mark 8: 34, 38. Our Lord had just foretold his own sufferings. Now Jesus goes on in this setting to speak of his requirement for his disciples to follow him. His disciples should be willing to follow him in the way of the cross. Soon they would be involved in persecution and trials. Jesus new the disciples would be unprepared to meet troubles unless they had wholly heartily surrendered unto him. Jesus never hid from his disciples what it would cost them to follow him. Again and again, when there were signs of defection on the part of the people following him, he also gave them an opportunity of leaving him if they wished to do so. “…Will ye also go away?” (Jh. 6:67)
We must understand, only whole-hearted service is acceptable to our Lord. “No man can serve two masters” (Mt.6:24). We must keep in mind that Christ and self cannot reign together. The apostle Paul stated, “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). Jesus said in verse 34 “follow me”. This simply means to believe the doctrine of Christ, to trust in him for total and complete salvation, to imitate Christ in his spirit and in his conduct, in holiness, in love for mankind and for humility, patience, meekness, gentleness, self-command, temperance and charity.
Are you following the world are Christ? In verse 34, Jesus speaks of following him, doing what he did, and going where he went. Jesus did not confine himself to the synagogue or to just the temple. Jesus dwelt in the home at Nazareth, worked at the carpenter’s bench, sat at the wedding feast, and went out on the lake with the fishermen. In all that, we may let it be seen that we are following Jesus and not the world. “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” (Acts 1:26).
Are you indulging yourself, are denying yourself? Verse 34 says, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself.” A complete surrender of your will is called for if you would truly follow Jesus Christ. Whenever God’s will points in one way and our tendency points in another, we must deny ourselves and follow Jesus. This is an indispensable condition of following Jesus. The true denier of self is the true follower. Desires, wishes and carnal pleasures must be denied and restrained when obedience to the Lord is required.
Are you caring for what is outward, or for what is inward? Jesus asked the question in verse 36, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul”. Many desire to gain the world, and in the attempt to use selfish and sinful deeds, such as the Lord rejected when they were offered to him in (Mt.4:9). What seems to us to be gain we must learn to “count lose for Christ.” (Phil 3:7,8). We cannot be content with the out-ward show of happiness. Character to us should be more important than circumstances. If the world be gained, nothing is gained; if the soul be lost, everything is at lost.
Are we seeking ease, or the risks of losing it? Often times we desire to test the different courses which are set before us. Speaking broadly, two are possible to us, and our use of one or the other proclaims what manner of men we are. We may ask the question, which is the most pleasant and easiest thing to do? Let each of us ask, which is the right thing? Isaiah said “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:” (Is1:8). Our life reaches far beyond things that we see and what we do not see. Death is the grave of the earthly pleasures, but to those of us who serve him, it is the gateway of heavenly joy.
Will you be ashamed, or exalted in the day of judgment? Christ speaks here of his coming again, “in the glory of his Father,” (v.38), as his Representative in judgment and as the Founder of a new heaven and earth, in which righteousness will dwell. Around him will be the holy angels, those servants of God who rejoice over the penitent (Lk. 15:10), who minister to the saints (Heb.1:14), and who will finally execute the judgment of the Lord “ And they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and do iniquity”(Mt.13:41). He who knows us well, will separate us, according to his unerring judgment of our Character. All will awake, “some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt”.