Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Finding Our Self

Matthew 16:25

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

IMG_0301I remember when I was much younger – during the 60’s – a time when young people would leave home – and travel across the county – to find themselves. Some ended up living in communes – some went to massive outdoor concerts – some experimented with drugs – and free (no commitment) relationships – some did all of the above and more. Each generation seems to search for their niche in life – for their identity – finding themselves.  The world is ever changing – some – like the greatest generation as they are called – grew up during wartime and grew up quickly with great responsibilities. Some have so much given to them – it seems – that some feel entitled to life and it’s blessings – with little responsibility.

Have you found yourself (were you even looking)? Do you know your purpose in life? Do you know God’s plan for you and your life? I was talking to a young man the other day. He was so confused. He seemed lost. He had tried on several occasions to take his own life. He had experienced such pain in his life – he couldn’t see what reason there was to continue to live. He had given up on God and on ever finding meaning in his life.

We talked some about seeking after God – really searching for the ways that God is at work in his life. If he was waiting to see a burning bush or to be swallowed by a large fish – those things happen – but not all that often! Looking for – searching for God – in our lives – we often need to look at the little things that we call accidents – or luck – or coincidence. God is at work in the large things of life – but God is also actively at work in the small – seemingly insignificant things as well.

Today’s passage suggests that one way to find our life – to know who and what we are – is to lose our life for God. Here is today’s passage in partial context. Matthew 16:24–28 – 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. 28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Denying self is not natural for humans – it seems. Many of us want to please self – want to satisfy ourselves – it just seems right. The me generation seems to encompass us all at times.

Jesus says – in order to find ourselves – we must deny ourselves. We must focus on God – rather than on self. We are called to seek His face and desire His grace – rather than focusing on our desires.

In talking to this young man – I asked him to look around him and see the ways in which God has been active in his life. He began to name some things that he couldn’t understand – things that seemed to fall into place in his life that he couldn’t understand. He even mentioned the fact that we were talking as a possible way that God was working in his life.  Are there times that God is active in our lives and we simply just aren’t aware or even looking?

If a relationship with Jesus is the secret to finding ourselves – shouldn’t we focus more of our time and energy on our relationship with Jesus? Shouldn’t we elevate our time with Christ to front and center in our lives? How’s our prayer life?  What time do we give to our devotional life?  Is attending worship high on our priority list?  In order to find our self we need to find Jesus.  To find Jesus – we need to deny self and take up our cross and follow Him.

Here’s a favorite passage of mine that often helps to refocus me.  Romans 12:1–2 – 1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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August 21, 2015 - Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , ,

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