Allegiance to the King
Open Your Bible
Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Luke 9:21-27, Luke 18:18-30, Philippians 3:20-21, 1 John 2:15-17
As followers of Jesus, our allegiance is to the King, and His kingdom is our priority. Submitting to Christ as King is an act of worship.
“If anyone wants to follow after me,” said Jesus to His disciples, “let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Deny yourself. Ooph. It’s one of those statements that cuts straight into me. Nothing in me likes the thought of denying myself. It creates the feeling of lack and I don’t like to feel the cavernous growl any more than the unfulfilled desires of my heart.
Reading today’s passages, I had to ask myself the honest question: as a follower of Jesus, what does it even mean to deny myself? Or pick up my cross? (After those first two, the questions kept on coming.) How do believers practice the kind of self-denial Jesus talked about without being doormats or shadows of who God created us to be? How do we avoid self-erasing and abuse, while, at the same time, also avoid idolizing self-care or, as my friend likes to put it, “building the kingdom of me”?
Our allegiance must be to our King. If you look at verse 25, Jesus also says, “For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself?” (or “soul” as some translations say). Denying ourselves isn’t about losing our God-given identity. What Jesus is saying is that instead of going after our own agendas, we should seek first the kingdom.
To do this, we must look to Jesus again. In the full passage from Luke 9, Jesus isn’t talking about self-imposed pain in an effort to be holier. We weren’t called to be hermits or doormats without boundaries. But we are told to expect trials in our day-to-day lives and to face them head-on for the sake of our greater calling.
As believers, our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Even though it’s right and good to thank God for the many amazing gifts He gives us, we want to be careful about developing a love for the world and our own comfort over our love for Christ (1John 2:15). Instead, our devotion and allegiance should be to our first love.
There will be days when we’re asked to give up a lot. A whole lot. There may be years that feel like we’re waiting for a harvest that isn’t coming. Life will require great endurance. That’s a promise. But there will also be beauty and the deep satisfaction of partnering with our King in His mission to redeem and restore our world. This is the tradeoff for denying ourselves and taking up our cross. We share in the sufferings of Christ, but we also get to share in the joy. Keep following Jesus, friends. It’s worth it.