Which do you want more? A Better You or Jesus?
Well, Claude, why can't I have both?
Interesting question I'm proposing for you to consider. And I'm going to try to be very graceful when it comes to tackling this topic, because this is simply a blog about perspective. I think deep within us we all wish we were "better". I think a lot of things we pursue and desire is rooted in what we believe will make us better people. If I gain this happiness, then I'll be a happier person and a nicer person.
But the reason why I gave just these two options is because of verses like this.
Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."
And even this one...
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." Luke 9:23-24
Let's nail our attention to Luke 9:23-24 and pay attention to the language Jesus is using. Because again, this is us focusing on a perspective shift. The first part of that verse, "for whoever would save his life will lose it," What is Jesus setting up for us? Whoever would try to save his own life will lose it. The definiton of save is: to keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction one from injury or peril; to save one from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health. So in context, that would mean I want to keep safe and sound my desires, my passions, my dreams, my pursuits, my loves, my hates, my understanding of my life. I think of saving money, what we are doing is storing up protection. I want to protect the life I have. I know what makes me happy Jesus. And it would mean that I think that I know what's best for my life, I know what's best to rescue me out of what I'm dealing with. Because again, I feel like we ALL essentially want to be better people...and you're saying I know how to make myself happier. I'm broke and bitter, I just need more money and I'll be happy. I'm insecure, I just need attention and I'll be better.
Did you notice a trend in that list? The idea of saving my own life puts a lot of power in my own hands.... it puts the focus on, ME. My wants, my desires, my dreams---all the focus is on me. Jesus I know what I need. I know what satisifies, I know Jesus. I know. And Jesus is telling us that we can't come to Him with our own agenda, He doesn't respond well with someone approaching Him, the Lord, demanding duel Lordship. Because you... sir.....and ma'm.... Jesus understands who you really are. Because here's what I dare you to think about, a better you is still a screw up.
Slow down. Can't miss that. Again.
A better you is still an awful mess.
But don't let that discourage you. Friends, that's a good thing. Because something has already been done about that. The cross! The cross is an exclamation of this fact. Even on your best day you still fall short. Even when you have been loving people, serving the community, buying free apple pies and jelly biscuits for the homeless, your deeds are still as filthy rags to God. So Jesus is saying you who think you can actually do some good, you really can't. You're incapable. You're just incapable of understanding everything He does. Your wants and desires are probably not even good for you. Jesus can see that, but you can't. But we'll hold on tight to those things and plead for Jesus to let us have it! The kid running with scissors is angry because his loving dad is trying to save his life but all the kid is wanting to do is play with the cool scissors.
But again, don't let that discourage you....because Jesus isn't done with the verse. How does He finish it? "BUT, whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." I love that ending. There's the good news. So, this is what Jesus is offering you.
You have a lot of stuff that you've built your identity around. You have your own idea of what's best for you. You have your own idea of what protects you, what warms and comforts your soul. You have a framework of that. But hear this in what Jesus is saying....if you drop all of that, if you lose that, all that, ALL of that for my sake, your life will be saved.
What is Jesus pointing to!?
HIMSELF! He says, "For my own sake." Hey, children. I may know something you don't! I may actually be the one true Savior. I may actually be the all-knowing God who knows you better than you know yourself. I may actually BE for your joy! I may love you endlessly and unconditionally and will never forsake you! I may actually be a better Lord than you are!
So again I ask, which do you want more? A better you or Jesus? If you're chosing the first one, a better you is still YOU. The same silly person you are today will be the same person you are when you become better. So read the books and try to fix the external things those authors point to in 5 easy steps. But hear me right now...sometimes.....the only practical advice you need is Jesus. Sometimes...you just need 1 point..... Jesus. Some of you may ask. "Well Claude, how do I practically pursue Jesus?"
You don't have to ask that. If you just asked that I'm praying for you. You need advice on pursuing the Jesus that saved you? My advice wasn't there when He saved you, and sometimes you don't need advice on how to go after Him. Just go after Him. Die to yourself, lose yourself, and let Him be Lord. He's a better Lord than you are. I can guarantee it.
You want it that way. Trust me. He's much better at it. So give up trying to pursue a better you, and pursue Jesus.