Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Mark 8:34
Too often I hear Christians talking about what they want. What sort of church service they would like. What sort of fellowship events they expect. What sort of help they want to give. How often do we ask God what he wants? Furthermore how often are we really doing something for God and not just doing something to make ourselves feel better? How often are our motives truly pure?
To deny ourselves is to deny our preferences, our ambitions and our preferred options. The disciples didn’t really understand this until Pentecost. Up until then, they were still thinking about going fishing (John 21:3) and still thinking about a physical kingdom (Acts 1:6). At Pentecost, they experienced God’s enabling power that motivated them to deny their comforts and spread the gospel.
Mature believers should be setting the example in this area, particularly when it comes to preferences in church service styles. Statistically, most people come to faith before they are 25. If our churches are going to reach these people we need to plan our services to appeal to teenagers and young adults. If you are over 25, like me, we can no longer expect church services to be run according to our preferences. We ought to be mature enough to feed ourselves anyway. It’s now about what we can do to encourage young people in their faith. It’s also about learning to connect with God through whatever means the worship leader presents us with, modern songs, readings, prayers, meditations, regardless of whether it’s our preference.
Of course, church services are just one area where mature believers deny their preferences. Perhaps you can think of others?