“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it...” Luke 14:27-28
Western culture is potently narcissistic in its orientation. Self-esteem, self-absorption, self-gratification, self-promotion, self-service, self-entitlement, self-help and personal ‘rights’ define modern existence. The core of this worldview can be summed up as simply the consuming quest for self-fulfillment. The danger this poses is that instead of meeting Christ and having everything turned upside down through a radical reorientation of one’s entire existence, the Gospel is at risk of being presented in such a way that God is merely assimilated into the preexisting view of the world. Through this human-centered view of reality, existence (including God’s existence) is evaluated with man as the reference point. God is seen in terms of His relation to man rather than man’s relationship to God. We are in danger of believing that God exists for us rather than us existing for Him. The cumulative effect of this distortion is that in salvation, man’s self-fulfillment remains the final goal rather than the glory of God, and Christ simply becomes the means to achieve that goal.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24
Jesus describes a different path altogether. At the very heart of following Him is the invitation to self-denial. The salvation we have experienced through our glorious Savior (and all subsequent sanctification) is primarily to free us from the enslaving self-compulsion caused by sin, so that we could fulfill our created purpose of magnifying Jesus and yearning for the Day of Lord when He alone will be exalted (Isaiah 2:17, Colossians 1:18).
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. 2 Corinthians 5:14–15
Scripture simply does not endorse the idea of Christianity being primarily the benefits we will receive through Jesus in this age. We are saved for Him, because we exist for Him. When these truths are lucid, the outcome is that it is normal and reasonable to gladly choose risk, pain, lack and loss for His sake. This biblical 'logic' is what drove the apostles to do outrageous exploits for Jesus and it must be recovered if the commission He gave us is to be completed. Who will make costly choices so that the Lord would be proclaimed in the hardest and darkest places?