I Love Me!

The tragic story of Edward VIII fascinates me as a lesson in regrettable choices!  He was born a prince, became loved by the English for being approachable, very different from their king. He was handsome, intelligent, and engaging; but undisciplined. When his father died in January, 1936, he became the King and Emperor of empire that spanned a quarter of the world.  

Just 11 months into his reign, he became the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne, a decision he made after the British government, public, and the Church of England condemned his decision to marry the twice-divorced American – Wallis Warfield Simpson. He lived out the rest of his life without purpose, a part of the ‘café society,’ giving lavish parties for celebrities, indulging his desires for clothes, fine food, and exotic vacations. Even his friends and close associates described his life as ‘shallow.’  Those who knew him well saw a man who, in spite of wealth and comfort, was a tragic figure, deeply sad.

In our time the worship of Self is taught from our earliest years. The best life is supposed to be found in ‘being your best self,’ chasing your bliss. We tend to discard relationships rather quickly if they become inconvenient or difficult. We regard self-sacrifice with deep suspicion, skeptical about the value of putting God, family, church, or country above our own ‘needs.’   

“Me first!” is an American as apple pie. The evidence of our self-love is everywhere, seen in the disappearing pool of volunteers that are needed to staff fire companies, ambulance corps, and church ministries, for example.  Our government is besieged by interest groups clamoring for their ‘rights’ to be recognized while our disunity tears us apart. We talk about cooperation but do political war to protect our own interest. Our failure of discipline is evident in our crisis of health that comes from high rates of obesity.  We insist that most any sexual expression is ‘natural’ in spite of multiple negative consequences for family stability.

Jesus meets a culture of indulgence with a call to follow Him with an obedient heart.  His invitation to real and lasting life is nearly incomprehensible to those who are addicted to Self.  He holds open the door saying, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Mark 8:34-37, NLT)  Can you hear Him?

Saying “yes” to God’s will, when everything in us is screaming for “freedom,” is hard- so hard it feels like dying.  Every person who chooses to say yes to the Spirit of God will encounter situations where Self meets the compelling voice of the Spirit.  It is quite natural to feel an internal war!  An honest disciple will find a prayer like this  on their lips more than a few times –  “Jesus, I don’t want to do that. You’re asking too much. It just doesn’t make sense.” 

Even Jesus, the sinless Son of God, prayed about the difficulty of doing His Father’s will. The night before the Cross He was in agony – suffering emotionally, spiritually, and with knowledge of the awful cross that was before Him. He prayed “My Father, if it is possible, don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup.”  He did not get up from that place of tears to do what He wanted.  He surrendered“Do what You want, and not what I want.” (Matthew 26:39, CEV)  

His obedience brought us salvation and “God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11, NLT)   A cross led to a crown.  It still does. Every day we can choose our way – to serve Self or to serve Christ.  We cannot do both. I would be lying if I said we could not find some measure of happiness by seeking our own way, by serving our desires. 

Self has a big appetite that grows when we feed it! There will never be enough.
We can, by faith and in love, choose the way of the Cross, dying to Self, and embracing obedience. 
In this, we find God’s commendation and a life of purpose, of lasting joy, and Heaven’s rich reward.

Our word from the Word asks great faith of us.  It is an invitation to a counter-cultural life, one that seeks God.  
Jesus says “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

“Don’t be in such a hurry to go into business for yourself. Before you know it the Son of Man will arrive with all the splendor of his Father, accompanied by an army of angels. You’ll get everything you have coming to you, a personal gift. This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you standing here are going to see it take place, see the Son of Man in kingdom glory.” (Matthew 16:24-28, The Message)

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O Come To The Altar
(an invitation song … from Elevation Worship)

Are you hurting and broken within
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well
Jesus is calling

O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ

Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there’s no reason to wait
Jesus is calling
Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling

Oh what a Savior
Isn’t he wonderful
Sing alleluia Christ is risen
Bow down before him|
For he is Lord of all
Sing alleluia Christ is risen

Bear your cross as you wait for the crown
Tell the world of the treasure you’ve found

Chris Brown | Mack Brock | Steven Furtick | Wade Joye© 2015 Music by Elevation Worship Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

CCLI License # 810055

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