There seems to be a real disconnect in this age of mass marketing Christianity as to what it means to "follow" Jesus Christ. Following Jesus is not a convenient thing. At times it is not even a pleasant thing but it is always a joyful thing that is marked by daily surrender. Unfortunately people do not understand this because much of our spiritual understanding is now mixed with the spiritual understanding of the world. We are so full of humanism now that we find ourselves agreeing when people quote "We are the masters of our own destiny". The only sense that this can be true for anyone is that Jesus has given us a choice of our destiny but we are masters of nothing.
The prophet Jeremiah very simply confessed to God:
"I know , O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps." (Jeremiah 10:23)
If believers could understand this to be truth there would be a lot less anxiety, fear and worry in existence. Jesus spoke the only reality that we should understand as followers, the only option there is for us:
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)
"In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33)
"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?" (Luke 9:24-25)
I hear people talk about radical living and radical Christianity. Is there any other kind? If these quotes aren't clear enough then try this:
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. >>>>> FOR YOU DIED <<<<< and your life is not hidden in Christ." (Colossians 3:1-3)
The emphasis there is mine. But get what follows next:
"When Christ, >>>>> WHO IS YOUR LIFE <<<<< appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3:4)
You can't be a follower of Jesus if he is only part of your life. Jesus has to be your life. He has to be the reason for you breathing, thinking, talking and doing. He has to be the very essence of life to you. We have to be able to say with Paul:
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
"I no longer live." Say that a few times and let the reality of it sink to the depth of you consciousness. There is no part time Christian or partial Christian or "I go to church" Christian. It is either all or nothing. And it isn't a sentiment. It is a radical change, a new birth, a death to self. That means everything we do must have purpose in Jesus, directed by Jesus. We do not get to control our life. We don't get to decide. It is as Jeremiah said: "A man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps."
What does this mean for you? A lot. But the exact details are only discovered as we live a daily surrendered life. We do a lot of things in our life every day that are still focused on us. It is habit. We have to ask the Spirit's help in breaking those habits. Our life is not our own, it belongs to Jesus and we must be living for his purpose. Examine your day and see what you do for your own gratification, what has nothing to do with Jesus whatsoever, how you are wasting this life you are suppose to be living in and through Jesus. Remember, you have been crucified with Jesus and the only life you have is the one Christ lives in you. To this world, the only Christian life there is is a radical one. Remember, you no longer live, it is Christ who lives in you.