For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake and the gospel’s will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God]. For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world [with all its pleasures], and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul and eternal life [in God’s kingdom]? For whoever is ashamed [here and now] of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. Mark 8.35-38 AMP
To follow Jesus means to be willing to leave our perceptions of what our lives should be behind.
To follow Him means to lay down or surrender our will, our desires, and even our relationships in order that we might put Him before those things. And in some cases, to even exchange Him for them completely. This is the hallmark of discipleship — following and reproducing the character, ways, and mission of Jesus in others.
It’s not that what we’re pursuing or doing is necessarily bad, but it’s about the priority of all things in our lives and whether they are before or second to Jesus.
So often today, we want our cake and we want to eat it too as the old like to say. We want to live for God our way, integrate His agenda into our own, and create our own standards of love and holiness. But to follow Him, to really follow Him, means denying ourselves [daily].
God wants His will done His way. Not our version of His will.
Even if we were born that way, or inherited a mess of a life, Jesus welcomes us a fresh start — be born again (John 3.7). “Follow Me,” He says. We’re not following Him completely if we’re still holding onto our own selves more than His ways and desires. Jesus knew that we cannot serve two masters because there’ll always be competing interests (Matthew 6.24).
To follow Jesus means to follow with everything. Because what’s the alternative? To follow Him with half a heart? A partial commitment? Not fully willing to go all of the way. And for what? What’s the prize here that we hope to capture? Pleasure and riches for this life?
God is more than worthy of a full “yes.”
If we’re not all in with God, then the rest of us that we’re holding back is our love and pursuit for things of this world. Things of this world that will end and a life that will end in this world [during our time on Earth]. Why do we cling so hard to a life that will soon enough end?
This life is not our final destination. So, God calls us to pursue the things above that won’t end with this life. Him and His Kingdom.