In a 1996 Christian publication, one writer measured the trend of contemporary Christian thinking by the books we buy. He suggested that exhibits at a Christian booksellers convention indicate that what sells is “the counsel of psychologists about anxiety and addiction. depression and dependency, self-esteem and sexuality, parenting and personality disorders.” What doesn’t sell “is the call of Jesus to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him… our obsession with self has led us astray into the temple of idols.”
Satan is preparing the world to dethrone God and crown a man who “as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
Sin’s root however, is more subtle than openly opposing God. “Ye shall be as gods” was the invitation to sit on the throne beside God, to share sovereign rights with Him, to make Him God by permission. Is it more “innocent” to share the throne of our life with God? Can we really live to please Him when we reserve the right to please ourselves sometimes, too?
Does our need to earn a living” ever override our responsibility to meet publicly with the Lord (which by interpretation means, to be at all the meetings)? Is our home for our comfort rather than for the gospel and hospitality to other believers? Do we ever compromise divine principles for the sake of an affordable, relaxing vacation? Does “the state of the flock” languish because we are busy painting our shutters, enjoying retirement, or working to afford retirement? Could financial security or comfortable family life ever cause a believer to rule out full-time gospel work? Do our actions ever suggest that we serve the Lord Christ at our convenience? Have we ever lacked a “word in season” because the cost of time with “The Book” was too high? How recently have we made a costly decision to honor the Lord Jesus rather than “have it our way”? “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself…”
Our Savior’s call and challenge cuts across centuries and cultures. It cuts much deeper than a call to turn from sin; it is a call to deny self, to live for priorities higher than the claims we call legitimate. His cross, His love and sufferings give Him a higher claim; His incomparable loveliness and moral beauty, His crown and coming glory have drawn us “after Him.”
Last month, these pages honored Paul Kember’s life. He frequently said about visiting door to door, “It’s never easy. I have to make myself do it every day.” Devotion to Christ, to the gospel that exalts Him, to the assembly that honors Him, to the service of believers who belong to Him, and to a life that glorifies Him must have highest priority. How can it ever be right to allow self a claim?