8:34 Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

If I am going to live in the Jesus way, there are bits of my life I am going to have to “deny”.

To “deny” myself is something much more subtle and much more profound than just giving up coffee for Lent.

The “self” Jesus calls me to “deny” is the self that hopes to assert his will over life and that believes his identity resides in the impact he makes in the world. This self is petty and resentful when he doesn’t get his way. He believes that the world is unfair because he experiences some discomfort or inconvenience.

When I take up my cross and “follow” Jesus, I have no hands left free to carry this small self. I must put down the ego-me who seeks to build a fortress around myself and to construct an illusion of security by trying to control the external circumstances of life.

Whenever I seek to create the illusion of security in this time-bound material realm, I lose my life. When I launch out in faith, trusting in the power that Jesus embodied and let go of all my little ego-projects and strategies, my life is “saved.”

To follow Jesus on the way of the cross is to come to that place where I am more whole. This is not a self-help strategy; it is not a make work project. This is the way of the cross, the strategy of surrender, dying to my small self and being raised in the light of my true self.

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Where do I see myself working on my little identity projects in which my small self seeks to build a fortress in a futile attempt to establish the illusion of safety and security in this life?

Lorenzo Lotto The Road to Calvary 1526