In Luke’s version of this saying of Christ the adverb daily is added. Every day the Christian is to die. Every day he renounces the sovereignty of his own will. Every day he renews his unconditional surrender to Jesus Christ.
The third expression which Jesus used to describe the renunciation of self is to lose our life: “Whoever loses his life . . . will save it.” The word for “life” here denotes neither our physical existence nor our soul, but our self. The psyche is the ego, the human personality which thinks, feels, plans and chooses. According to a similar saying preserved by Luke Jesus simply used the reflexive pronoun and talked about a man forfeiting “himself.” The man who commits himself to Christ, therefore, loses himself. This does not mean that he loses his individuality, however. His will is indeed submitted to Christ’s will, but his personality is not absorbed into Christ’s personality. On the contrary, as we shall see later, when the Christian loses himself, he finds himself, he discovers his true identity.
So in order to follow Christ we have to deny ourselves, to crucify ourselves, to lose ourselves. The full, inexorable demand of Jesus Christ is now laid bare. He does not call us to a sloppy half-heartedness, but to a vigorous, absolute commitment. He calls us to make him our Lord.
The astonishing idea is current in some circles today that we can enjoy the benefits of Christ’s salvation without accepting the challenge of his sovereign lordship. Such an unbalanced notion is not to be found in the New Testament. “Jesus is Lord” is the earliest known formulation of the creed of Christians. In days when imperial Rome was pressing its citizens to say “Caesar is Lord,” these words had a dangerous flavour. But Christians did not flinch. They could not give Caesar their first allegiance, because they had already given it to the Emperor Jesus. God had exalted his Son Jesus far above all principality and power and invested him with a rank superior to every rank, that before him “every knee should bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
To make Christ Lord is to bring every department of our public and private lives under his control. This includes our career. God has a purpose for every life. Our business is to discover it and do it. God’s plan may be different from our parents’ or our own. If he is wise, the Christian will do nothing rash or reckless. He may already be engaged in, or preparing for, the work God has for him to do. But he may not. If Christ is our Lord, we must open our minds to the possibility of a change.
from Basic Christianity, by John Stott, pp. 109-113
John R. W. Stott is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist and communicator of Scripture. For many years he served as Rector of All Souls Church in London, where he carried out an effective urban pastoral ministry. A leader among evangelicals in Britain, the United States and around the world, Stott was a principal framer of the landmark Lausanne Covenant (1974). His many books, including Why I Am a Christian and The Cross of Christ, have sold millions of copies around the world and in dozens of languages.
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