How faithful (devoted, staunch, committed, trustworthy, dependable, reliable, dedicated) are we to the commands of Christ? Among His commands was the requirement to DAILY take up our cross and FOLLOW Him. “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9: 23. However, there are many times we are less than faithful and actually choose to deny Him.
What is denial? It is the attitude that avoids looking realistically at issues. It is pretending or claiming to be something or someone that we are not. It is rejecting or “disowning” that which He has commanded of us. We could go on and on, but I believe the point is made—we are to DAILY choose to follow the Living Christ and strive to live in accordance with His teachings/commands.
In Every Day With Jesus, Ann Graham Lotz writes, “Most Christians (myself included) are to varying degrees held together by denial. Deep down we sense that if we were to face the realities of life openly and honestly, we might not be able to cope, and so we pretend things are not what they are.” There is a great deal of truth in that statement.
We all know (and are probably guilty of) professing Christians that pretend that what we have in our lives satisfies far more than it actually does. We pretend life’s circumstances have not hurt us deeply. We refuse to face and feel what is going on inside us, due to the strange belief that such confessions are expressions of a lack of faith.
Only Christ satisfies! Only faithful obedience to Him brings ultimate JOY into our lives. We can be content in every circumstance of life if we will DAILY choose to pick up His cross and FOLLOW Him. We cannot pretend to follow. We cannot act as if we are fulfilled. We must abide in Him, pick up that cross DAILY, and FOLLOW Him.
I challenge you to look deeply within yourself. Is what you display you say you have in Christ real or fake? We cannot ignore what is going on inside us, we have to face it and deal with it. This “pretending” to be something we are not is responsible for more casualties in the Christian life than we can imagine. A Christian psychologist says: "I am convinced that much of what we admire as spiritual maturity is a fragile adjustment to life based on the foundation of denial.” Think about that statement a bit.
This would mean that much of what we call Christian maturity might very well be based on a “foundation of denial.” We “pretend” to be something we are not. We cling to the world AND try to be Christian in our own strength. We pretend to be faithful, when we are giving God our leftovers and not our firstfruits. In my own observations, I have found many non-Christians to be more open and honest in facing what is going on inside them than some Christians.
Denial is NOT a wise plan for life. Again, Ann Graham Lotz writes, “The choice, then, is stark: either to deny and live comfortably or to face every painful issue - and go on to climb the heights with God.” No matter how much we try Jesus’ truth remains His truth – NO MAN (or woman, or child, or youth) can serve two masters! Our pretending will produce a façade that covers up our weakness and allows us to “meander in the wilderness.” Our choosing to admit who we are and where we are in Christ – to BE REAL – and then, strive to pick up that cross daily and FOLLOW HIM allows us to experience the fullness of a faithful life in Christ and “climb to new heights with God.”
It is my prayer that today I will be real with God! That I will choose to take up His cross and strive to FOLLOW Him. I pray that I will not be so afraid that I would pretend instead of trusting Him. Truth is, there is NOTHING we will face today that is greater than God. If I will admit that truth, accept His provision, TRUST Him completely, and strive to follow Him, I WILL experience the fullness of Christ. I will know the joy of His abiding presence in my life. I will have His Joy and the peace that surpasses all human understanding. What we are longing to experience is found in Jesus, but we must be real with Him. Strive to be faithful in the “small stuff” today, so you can experience His faithfulness.