Jesus said to all of them, “If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me. Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me will have true life." (Luke 9:23-24)
I think this verse frightens some people because they think this 'giving up things' is going to be way harder than it actually is. When Jesus tells us that we must be willing to give up our daily lives to follow him he isn't saying we never have fun again. He isn't implying there is no joy in living for him. In fact, he really brings more joy into our lives than anything we 'give up' could ever provide.
There is a choice here - people 'want to follow' - they are actively choosing his will over theirs. What are some of the things we 'give up' when following Jesus? Some will automatically answer things like partying every Saturday with the homies, swearing like a sailor, or going to the football games on Sunday instead of church. While these choices may be part of the outcome of laying it all down for Jesus, they aren't the things he's seeking.
The 'giving up' part is really a willingness to seek his will first in our lives. That means we don't just 'willy-nilly' go about living, hot one moment, cold the next. We choose each and every day to submit our daily activities to him, allowing him to use us as he wills. That may look a little like gathering with our friends and family around a great big potluck meal and just celebrating being together. It could look like us offering a ride to a stranger stranded by the side of the road, taking us just a bit out of our way or delaying our progress toward our destination a bit.
Living "for Christ" doesn't have to be giving up all the things we enjoy. I go fishing on some Sundays - but I also take time in his Word before I do - because it builds me up and gives me 'spiritual sustenance' for my day. If you have been putting off choosing Christ because you thought you'd have too much to give up, think of it this way. The 'giving of our lives' never comes with regret. Christ never asks us to give up anything he isn't willing to replace with something we will actually come to appreciate more than whatever it is we lay at his feet. Just sayin!
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