A refreshing take on a familiar passage.

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October 20
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me."
Matt 16:24
Take up your cross - Part One

"We will never create anything more powerful or significant than our lives." Erwin McManus.

I posted this quote on Instagram a few months back, and I copped a little heat for it. Someone said that they felt this was the most selfish statement they had seen on our account. I encounter tension around this in communities of faith, and within myself, all the time. We embrace the idea that we are loved, purposed, created, designed, precious - so much so that Christ endured the cross for us all - sinner and saint alike. But at the same time, we deem ourselves unworthy, unholy, inherently evil - nothing without Christ and that he alone is the only good thing about ourselves.

I struggled with this when I was younger and consequently, I grew up with a warped sense of self. Unless I was giving myself fully to "The Kingdom," I felt like I was wasting my time. Sacrifice was of high value to me, but I took it too far. Fast forward to my late twenties and what I thought was sacrifice turned out to be neglect. I neglected my health, mind and heart.

I agree with Erwin McManus. The most powerful and significant thing we will ever create, nurture, curate, and take responsibility for is our own lives. If I am not healthy, I cannot produce health. If I produce outcomes at the expense of my own heart, mind and body, they will be unsustainable and short-lived. The best gift I can give myself, those I love, and the community and world around me, is a healthy me. Heart. Mind. Body. Spirit.

God has entrusted us first and foremost with our own lives. When he was speaking to the disciples in Matthew 16 about what was to come and hinting at for the first time what he would endure, he encouraged them to turn from selfishness, to shoulder the cross in their own bodies and to follow him with their lives.

This is not an act of turning away from yourself, your desires, dreams, health and rest. Rather, it is the return to these things in their most pure form. It's death and resurrection all in one.
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