We live in a culture obsessed with independence. Everywhere we turn, there is a new advertisement offering a product or some sort of opportunity for us to build our own kingdom.
In a culture saturated with self, how do we maintain dependence on Jesus?
For many years, I chased dreams of my own making. I found myself desiring fame and fortune and peering around every corner for an opportunity to promote my own abilities. I never achieved mass fame or fortune, but got deep enough into my pursuit to be confronted with the emptiness of what I was chasing. I found that I had reduced Jesus to a self help guru that was assisting me in my endeavors of creating my own platform.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?’” Matthew 16:24-26
The tricky part of my story is that in the beginning, I thought that I was living a radical life for Jesus. But, until an encounter with the man himself, I didn’t realize that I had reduced His majesty for my own personal gain. I wasn’t building His kingdom, I was building my own and tagging Him onto it.
What does it mean to deny yourself and take up your cross to follow Him? What does it look like to lay down your life for Him?
I had an encounter with the Lord where He invited me to lay my life at His feet. He asked me to lay down my dreams of stardom in the spotlight and my confusion about my life, and to allow my pursuit of self promotion to whither at His feet. That surrender has cost me everything. I can continue my story in a later blog post, but for the sake of time, I will leave you with this. I searched the world for my identity. I experimented with my sexuality, gender, substances, sex, belief systems, geography, socio-economic status, and many occupations. I tried everything that anyone told me would make me happy and set me free and I found myself miserable, confused, and lost.
All of this happened in a desperate search to find the truth.
It wasn’t until I said “yes” to surrendering my kingdom that I truly let go of the image I’d been taught of the “self help Jesus” and met the true majesty of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I’ve been living a surrendered to Jesus for some years now and the more I get to know Him, the more I realize that my chief purpose in this world is to behold His beauty.
Have you fully surrendered your life at His feet? Is Jesus your means to an end or is He both the means and the end?
With all the Love,
Michael A. Raftery
Global Mission Awareness
(P.S. I welcome your responses. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)