“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” (Mark 8:34b-36)
When we compare ourselves to the world to say, people with money, fame, power and talent such as actors, millionaire business men and women, and politicians we may think: “What is the use of following God? Others do what they want and get what they want. I deserve it. It’s my turn now. Why should I give up what I want? Why shouldn’t I get what they have?’’
Following Jesus as His disciple, however, means denial of self. That is not the same as self-denial in which we deny things to ourselves at times such as food or water or material possessions in an attempt to discipline our fleshly appetites and build up our spiritual strength. Denial of self involves surrendering my whole life with my wants and desires to God to do what He wants. This is the ultimate purpose of life: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
A disciple of Christ puts his/her trust in Jesus alone. In this life this trust or faith is often based on what we cannot see. There may be no signs or feelings or miracles to confirm that the faith is based on truth. In fact it may often seem that the faith is misguided for it goes unrewarded, unrecognized, unproven while unbelievers behave wickedly and prosper in spite of it. The only thing we have to verify what we believe is often the word of God. But as we saw in the life of Abraham, that is enough. God is always faithful even when we are not.