To be confronted with the reality that over 2 billion people are headed toward an eternity without Christ can be troublesome and uncomfortable to many believers. Why? Because, perhaps without realizing it, their desire is to enjoy their salvation, families, church fellowships, seminars and conferences without such a painful interruption.
When the apostle Paul described to Timothy why the last days would be so difficult, his number one reason was: “For men will be lovers of themselves” (2 Timothy 3:2, NKJV). There is no statement that more accurately describes the mindset of our present generation. Our greatest enemy is not the devil or anything outside of us. The greatest enemy is inside us—our own self-centeredness. We are constantly bombarded with counsel to be protective of ourselves, our possessions, our rights and our wants. Everywhere we turn, we are told that we deserve the best. We are offered self-help books and teachings on every conceivable subject to improve our own lives.
It is sad to say that this self-centered mindset has infiltrated much of the Body of Christ, especially in more affluent countries. Our worship, our teaching and our spiritual desires are primarily focused on, “Lord, bless me, give to me and let me enjoy.”
Whatever happened to the war we are supposed to be in and to the command, “do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2)? Jesus came to set us free from being self-centered. He taught us that the laws of the kingdom of God are in sharp contrast with the mindset of this world. For example, “whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
We are fooling ourselves if we attempt to practice a Christianity that does not include embracing the cross and death to our own selves. Picking up the cross is a choice we make deliberately so that His name can be glorified and made known among the peoples. Reaching this generation with the love of Christ will never happen until we have the mind of Christ: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). This is a life that we choose; it is not something imposed upon us.
Having the mind of Christ sets us free from our self-centeredness and enables us to minister to those in need around us.
But how can we get this mind? Jesus gave the answer: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
Once, while on the mission field, I met a brother who was under a death warrant for sharing the love of Christ with others. He had been imprisoned many times, beaten, stabbed and shot at, and was on the run for months at a time. Yet he was eager to endure all these things if it meant he could share with one more person about his Savior and King. “My life is nothing,” he said. “It all belongs to Jesus.” This brother has a wife and children who suffer alongside him—willingly. For them, Jesus is worth it all. He is the best reason to live.Choosing inconveniences, choosing difficulties, choosing the rough road because we love Him—this is the way of Christ. It is a deliberate decision to walk away from the mindset of self-preservation and allow the Lord to pour out our lives for the millions who have never before heard the name of Jesus.
I was sixteen when Jesus called me to serve Him. Alone in bed in a tiny room in Bangalore, India, I surrendered my life to do His will. Now decades have passed, and I’ve traveled millions of miles. My entire life has been given to serve Him with all my heart, but even today I find myself longing for comfort and ease, security and appreciation.
I have a secret that helps me to come back to the Lord and deal with this struggle daily. I say to myself something like this, “What are you thinking? One hundred years from now, what will all these things matter? People may say the best things about you or the worst things about you. Who cares? You could have the best house and the best clothes. But what does it matter?”
And then I say to myself, “A day is soon coming when time shall be no more. Don’t seek your own. Love Him more than life itself. Be willing to pay any price. Even death is not too big a price to pay.”
Where are you on this journey of forsaking all and following Him? Wherever you are, I encourage you to press on. The road may seem difficult at times, but the Lord is with us. And in all this He seeks one thing—to make us more like Himself.
Heavenly Father, I want to thank You for my precious brothers and sisters reading this post. None of us are perfect. We are disciples, learners, struggling through failures and our own self-centeredness. You love us, and You want us to be like You, and You are changing us.
So, Lord, we gaze into Your face. Please remove the veils on our hearts that keep us from seeing You, Lord. Help us to follow You with all our hearts. Help us to become agents of reconciliation for so many in our generation that do not know You.
Thank You for the joy of knowing You.
Lord, we love You so much, for You first loved us.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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