A central demand for Jesus’ disciples is self-denial. “If anyone wishes to come after me,” said Jesus at the height of his popularity, “he must deny himself” (Matthew 16:24; by the way, making statements like this hardly seems a prudent way to build or keep a crowd. Maybe Jesus knows something we modern purveyors of His message have forgotten.)
But here’s a question: Does this denying of the self mean that we should look at ourselves as “zeros,” as insignificant creatures? Certainly not, there is a biblical balance here. We are to deny ourselves precisely because we are not “zeros.” We are made in God’s likeness and therefore like God are capable of significant choices and actions. It would be silly to tell your dog to deny himself. But because we as humans are something great, we are called to descend, just as Jesus did. Greatness used for itself is no longer great but self-centered. We are to be good, not just great. And if we are not good as well as great we will held accountable for it. Listen to the words of the French believer Pascal: “True religion that
teaches about man’s greatness and misery inspires self-esteem as well as self-contempt, love and yet also hate. Philosophers, however, tend to take sides.”
You are great. Therefore, you must be good.
Something to think about from “The Kingdom Perspective.”
“ And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’”
~ Luke 9: 23