The great rebellion against our Creator comes from a selfish nature that promotes my needs above everything else. Selfishness is at the core of all sin. Even after we accept Jesus we struggle against the desire to seek what is good for us, ahead of what is good for others. It causes fights in church, and leads us into wrong doctrine. Sometimes it gets so bad I wonder if we are even reading the same Scriptures. Do we not understand what Jesus was saying when he explained what it takes to be his disciple?
“All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23)
I hear a lot about crosses and following and very little about denying ourselves. In fact, it is the opposite. It is all about rights, self love, promoting self, protecting self. People believe because they feel it they have to act on it. There is so much confusion and lines being smudged because we don't know how to say no to ourselves, to step into our responsibilities and to live as Jesus lived.
The very foundation of our Christian beliefs is self-sacrificing love, putting other people ahead of ourselves, considering other people more important than ourselves. This is based on the fact that since we have Jesus we don't need anything else and that demonstrating the love of Jesus costs. It costs us our right to be hurt, our right for vengeful justice, our right to be right:
Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
It comes down to understanding what Jesus meant by "take up your cross daily". Why are you here? For yourself or for Jesus? Are you here to make a great life for yourself or to carry out the will of Father? Our life has a purpose here. Do you understand what it is? Consider Paul's view of his life:
I please everyone in everything I do. I don’t look out for my own advantage, but I look out for many people so that they can be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:33)
Not a lot of place for self gratification or self love there. Paul lived so people could be saved. His desire was to be used by Jesus for the salvation of others. His desire, his interests, his comfort were not important. He was pliable according to the situation so he would have the opportunity to present Jesus. This is love, not to love ourselves but to pour out our lives to the benefit of those for whom our Lord laid down his life to save. Is there a more noble reason for us to live a self-less life in service to our King and the lost of this world?