Self Denial

And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

— St. Luke 9:23-24

Christ is the way out, and the way in; the way from slavery, conscious or unconscious, into liberty; the way to the home we desire but do not know.  We must become as little children, and Christ must be born in us: we must learn of him, and the one lesson he has to give is himself: he does first all he wants us to do; he is first all he wants us to be. We must not merely do as he did; we must see things as he saw them, regard them as he regarded them; we must take the will of God as the very life of our being; we must neither try to get our own way, nor trouble ourselves as to what may be thought or said of us. The world must be to us as nothing--not the world God makes and means, but the world man makes by choosing the perversion of his own nature—a world apart from and opposed to God’s world. By the world I mean all ways of judging, regarding, and thinking, whether political, economical, ecclesiastical, social, or individual, which are not divine, which are not God’s ways of thinking, regarding, or judging; which do not take God into account, do not set his will supreme, as the one only law of life; which do not care for the truth of things, but the customs of society or the practice of the trade; which heed not what is right, but the usage of the time. From everything that is against the teaching and thinking of Jesus, from the world in the heart of the best man in it, and especially from the world in his own heart, the disciple must turn to follow him. The first thing in all progress is to leave something behind; to follow him is to leave one’s self behind. “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself.”


by George MacDonald

Today, I thought, what would be better but to get a second helping of the Scotsman himself! The following is excerpted from George MacDonald in the Pulpit, an invaluable collection of MacDonald's spoken sermons compliled by Joseph Flynn and David Edwards and published by Johannesen Printing and Publishing.
--Jess Lederman

From the sermon, Know Christ, preached by George MacDonald one hundred thirty years ago, in July, 1887, at West Croydon Congregational Church:

"Only when we have come to feel that life is precious to us just and only because we are the children of the Living One, and that we are hand and heart with Him--only then can a man be thoroughly, righteously able to say: "It is worth while to live." With some of you, friends, it is a marvel that you care to live at all. One supposes that you accept the name of Christians by your coming to a place of this sort. Will you say for yourself now, and to yourself, that you are a Christian? What do I mean by a Christian? I mean a man who lives for and in the purpose and life of Christ--a man who acknowledges his life as hid with Christ in God, a man who knows that he cannot serve God and mammon, and never tries, but, feeling in him his own imperfection and evil, struggles against it, and seeks to cast out everything, that God might dwell in him. But instead of that, how would you like me now to be able to see into your hearts, and see the kind of thing that is there? Some of you know you would not like it--the vileness, the dirt, the meanness, the vanity, the selfishness. In God's name, I would not like to see it; I see enough in my own. But God sees it. I thank God. But do you like Him to see it? Some of us like Him to see the bad that is in us because we know He will help us to get rid of it, He will clear it out for us, not without our earnest endeavour and strife and struggle--But He will do it, for He is on our side, and against the evil. Why, some of you have learned that self is a thing that is loathsome to you. You have begun to see that if there come not into you a high power of purity and deliverance, a presence to your consciousness of the living God, by whom and in whom you live, your whole nature is a something from which you recoil, for it was never meant for you to live in the consciousness of self, and no man live in that, but must go mad..."