“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." Mark 8:34-35
Over the past few weeks, in the youth department, we have been working through a series of lesson (created by northlandchurch.net) which speak to how the arrival of Jesus upset the status quo. It seems as if the culture and the religious establishment of the day expected something totally different. Jesus was not to their liking. His arrival was different. His kingdom was different. His methodology was different. Everything about Him was different. In the mind of many, He was not the long awaited Messiah but a megalomaniac who was attempting to claim a status He did not deserve. This Jesus of Nazareth, they assumed, was trying to turn world up-side-down.
What the religious establish did not recognize was that Jesus was not trying to overhaul the Mosaic Law day rather He was endeavoring to clarify it. The teachings of Jesus did not turn the world up-side-down, actually they turn the world right-side-up. In one of His most famous discourses, found in Matthew 5, Jesus called His listeners to a different kind of life. The radical commands found here clearly call for followers to not only to possess an outward faith but to internalize it. This inward-faith approach was revolutionary in that it called for the denial of self and the adherence to both the letter and spirit of the law.
This sounded outlandish and extreme to the people of Jesus’ time. This approach to faith may even sound over-the-top to each of us. Then again, is not Christianity marked by death to self and life through Christ? Let each of us deny self and take up our cross and follow Christ. This is my call to the Millen Baptist youth and it is my call to each of us who call ourselves Christian. Let each one of us scrutinize ourselves and see what in our lives need to be turned right side up as we seek to follow after Jesus Christ. This is not an easy path to walk but Jesus did not take the easy road. He challenged the ways of the world and the Christian traditions of the day.
What areas of your life need to be turned right side up?