Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
I recently read a mini-review of "Love Wins", Rob Bell's new book, and the pastor who was writing the review said that the book was forcing him to talk about the 'bad news' instead of the 'good news'. Phrases like "forfeits his soul" and "repay each person according to what he has done" might be discounted if they were not spoken by Jesus himself. These phrases present a heavenly admonition about the cost of living for ourselves and not God.
On the flip-side Jesus speaks of those who follow him and says that they "will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." So often it is easy to forget that Jesus does not command us to deny ourselves in vain. He does not ask us to bear our cross for naught. Yet the promise of paradise is so simple.. it was given to the thief on the cross who denied himself and cried out to Jesus in his last hour. He found hope hanging on a cross.
I need you today Lord. Help me to deny myself, pick up my cross and follow you.