Passionate Pursuit

A young relative is in love. How do I know? He writes with great passion about his beloved. He thinks about her constantly. Her well-being is on his mind.

Jesus said, “Whoever will come after me, must deny himself…”

The phrase come after in the social context of the time usually refers to a romantic passion. The phrase must have been one of those that Jesus was famous for–using words in new ways to point to a relationship with God and totally confusing his audience to the point of making them think about what he said.

What have been the passions of your life? Remember pursuing a boy/girl or woman/man? Can you recapture that passion in your mind? Better yet, maybe you still have it. I wrote last week about what happens when that feeling dissipates.

Let’s think about this in terms of denying yourself. If you are pursuing someone so passionately, you don’t care so much about yourself (if you are, then you’d better check your emotional maturity index). You deny yourself such that your beloved is honored.

Paul tried valiantly, if confusingly, to describe this in his description of marriage–a picture of mutually denying yourself in order to honor your spouse. It seems confusing to read it. Paul would have been better served in getting his point across by telling a story about a husband and wife and how they act toward each other.

The world would have been spared much grief had translators understood denying oneself and become a servant (some translations slave) of Jesus. Perhaps a story rather than intellectual discourse would have helped. Nineteenth Century philosophers hated that word slave and the picture of Christians as sheep and wrote philosophies that ended up enslaving millions and murdering hundreds of thousands or maybe also millions.

How about a story about loving Jesus so much that your every thought is about him. All you want in life is to serve God passionately. You’re a servant. But an empowered servant, because the more passionately you love God, the more you will deny your own will to serve him and conversely the more God will make you stronger and stronger. They forgot that last part in the Nineteenth Century.

We need to remember it. The more passionately we follow Jesus, the more we try to please, honor and serve Him. But, Jesus then gives us great power.

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