Last week we looked at Part 1 – the importance of correctly identifying Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.
Ego: The Control Room of Self
Identity is a funny thing. We search for it. We protect it. We exalt it.
Think we don’t? How much have you heard about introversion these days? A few years ago, introversion was something that only psychiatrists and temperament nerds (guilty!) understood. Now there are Facebook pages dedicated to introverts and introversion, and articles explaining to extraverts how to understand the introverts in their lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being an introvert. I can spend all my evenings working on this blog and not feel guilty about it. “I’m recharging,” I can say and pat myself (mentally) on the back for getting out of a unwanted social engagement.
Except for the continual reminder, sometimes daily, from a long-ago article by World writer Andree Seu Peterson: “A lot of what I though was my personality was just sin.”
I don’t think there will be many Christians that have a problem with identifying as a person of the other gender. Or of a non-gender. Or of a non-human. Whatever. I do think we can focus far too much on how we identify our personalities.
No Egos Allowed
Having correctly identified that Jesus was the Messiah of God, (like Peter did in Luke 9), Jesus did not give the disciples with a gold star and a pat on the back. Nope. They were His disciples, not just part of the crowd that listened to Him.
“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
To be the Messiah meant He was born to die on the cross. When we are born again, we are born to a cross too. The cross of discipleship.
“Jesus laid down the stern requirements for discipleship. We must first say no to ourselves — not simply to pleasures or possessions, but to self — and then take up our cross and follow Christ daily.” Warren Wiersbe (Be Compassionate, p 123)
We may find it easier to yield our bodies than to yield our emotions and will and self. I do not find yielding who I am to be an easy task. In fact, this might be the hardest part of the Christian life. I like my introversion. I think by denying myself that I will become less me. Which may just be the point. The less me… the more Christ!
- If being an introvert keeps you from opening your home or heart to someone in need — deny yourself.
- If being an extravert means you keep looking for the next experience rather than noticing where God has you now — deny yourself.
- If being a thinker means you always have to be right but forget how to be kind — deny yourself.
- If being a feeler means you pursue harmony to the detriment of truth or growth — deny yourself.*
The world gives awards and rewards to those that self-identify. Christians get a cross for denying ourselves. The cost is great, yet the promise is greater.
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:24-25 italics added)
Once we’ve decided that nothing that I am, physically or personally, compares to the I Am, we have learned the true meaning of being disciples of Jesus Christ.
I’ll end this two-part series with one of my favorite missionary accounts that convicts me every time I read it.
James Calvert was a Wesleyan missionary in the 1800s and sailed to the Fiji Islands to bring the gospel to the cannibals that lived there. The captain of the ship tried to persuade Calvert and his team to turn back.
“You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.”
Calvert simply replied, “We died before we came here.”
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
*Personalities and the spectrum of introversion and extraversion, thinking and feeling have wide ranges. The Holy Spirit will the the one to convict each believer personally where they use their personalities as an excuse to keep from obeying God. These are examples.