A. Brother

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called the children of God!
And that is what we are!
The reason the world did not know us
is that it did not know Him.”
--1 John 3:1

          When we look around at our cultures and our churches, we see a self-focus that has become so pervasive it has twisted even many of the faithful into mere shadows of what God intends us to be.  This self-focus is a worldly focus, and turns our light into darkness, our good deeds into nothing. 

          Scripture teaches that our “self”—this unique, God-created person—is prone to sin, subject to decay, and that we must deny our “selves” in order to enter the Kingdom of God. (Mark 8:34)  Christ in us completes us.  When Christ inhabits us by His Spirit, He helps us let go of the old man, and behold, all things become new in Him. (2 Cor. 5:17)  This new man is not full of self, but full of Christ, and led and empowered by the Spirit of Christ within. (Col. 3:3)

          We are dead, and our lives are now with Christ, in Christ, and His life is in us, in this new man, created by God, reborn into freshness, and able to live the Christ-life by His power, and to His glory.  Living the successful Christ-life has everything to do with dying to self, and depends upon that death of self for its beginnings.

          However, many of us have been taught a self-focused gospel, which has come out of the churches in recent generations, especially in America.  This self-focus is really like a cult.  Its adherents are adamant about their personal rights to a good life, their political rights to freedom, their entitlements to receive the blessings of God because they claim the Name of Christ. 

          This gospel is not the true gospel of Christ, or it would teach what Jesus taught.

          Jesus taught self-denial.  Jesus taught us to be other-focused.  Jesus showed us how, with His life of self-sacrifice for our sakes.  So how could we have been led astray by this Cult of Self?  How could we follow teachings that fly in the face of all that our Lord Jesus exemplified?  I don’t have the answer to that question, but we’ve done it. 

          Think about Satan’s temptations of the Lord Jesus when He was out in the desert, practicing what He was soon going to preach by denying Himself food for forty days, and spending all His time with His Father preparing for ministry.  What did Satan tempt our Lord with?  Self-gratification, self-glorification, and self-focus.  (Matt. 4:1-11)  It was all about Jesus’ inner self, His manhood, His personhood, His pride, His need for attention, even His placement in the world.  Satan tests us in the same ways, and many of us are failing the test, because we have been unprepared.

          In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus left His disciples while He went to pray in agony about the death He was going to die the next day.  How did He admonish them in that moment?  “Watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”  (Matt. 26:41)  Yes, it is our flesh that is weak, and we not only experience these temptations to self-focus that Jesus did, but because we have been taught this self-focused gospel, we have often fallen to them. 

          Brothers, I admonish us, and I pray for us, that we would give up our membership in this Cult of Self.  There are many of those who claim Christ whose entire life is centered around themselves, their families, their churches, their jobs, their possessions, their activities and hobbies, their time, their efforts.  It’s all about us.  It’s all about me.  It’s all about my fulfillment as a person.  Our entire society is geared to this self-focus, and we’ve bought into it.

          We even preach Christ as if He’s the self-help guru, ready to bring us to self-fulfillment by following Him! 

          What a lie!  He’s going to bring us to self-death, so that in our new, God-wrought personhood, Christ is all, and we are nothing except His Sons and His Daughters.  As John cries out in joy, we are children of God now, and what a privilege!  Though the world hates us, we are His and His alone, and find our fulfillment in that fact. 

          How dare we preach a gospel that is other than that handed down to us in Scripture!    When Christ comes back, will He find faith on earth? 

          Those who seek Him will find Him, and when He returns, they will find their lives as promised, for eternity.

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but
whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
--Matt. 16:25


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