Friday, April 13, 2018

Following Jesus Like the Men in Black

A few years ago, Men in Black III came out. Apparently agent J had to go back in time to save the universe. Of course, if you have seen the first one, you know that Will Smith's character was given a choice when he decided to become a man in black. He could join the force, experience wonders he never knew existed, discover alien life-forms and help save the world. But if he did it would mean giving up his life. The person he had been would cease to exist. For the rest of his life, he would exist as an easily forgettable face, have no friends outside the Men in Black, and sever all ties with anyone he previously knew. He would be giving up his old life in order to get a new life.

Jesus actually warned us that following him would be a very similar experience. In Mark 8:34-35, Jesus told those gathered around him, "If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it" (HCSB).  Jesus warned us that in order to follow him we would have to give up our lives and while, sometimes, that means being willing to die, most of the time it means giving up our own plans and desires and expectations for our life.

Sometimes, we miss out on what it really means to follow Christ because we are too busy hanging on to our own expectations. We are afraid that if we really follow him, we are going to miss out on things that are important to us. We may picture missing out on our dream house because we decide to follow Christ into a low-paying job of service or living life without a spouse because the work we are called to is too dangerous to include a family. We may fear losing friends because we take unpopular stands based on our relationship with God. We may just be scared that we will never achieve our goals because God seems to be leading us everywhere but toward our goals.

But Jesus told us that if we cling too tightly to our lives, to our conceptions of what our life should be, we will lose them anyway. But if we lay them aside for his sake and for the sake of the Gospel, if we decide to embrace the new life that Christ has called us to, even if it is very different from what we think we want, we will discover life in the truest sense of the word. "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it."

Have you been holding out on Jesus, afraid to give him total control because it might mean being somewhere or doing something you don't want? Have your clung to your own expectations for your life and become miserable because God doesn't seem to be leading you where you want him to? Try laying your life aside and embracing the life that Jesus offers in its place. It may not be what you expected but it will be better than what you wanted for yourself.

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