September 2014

\"Deny your self... follow me\"
[Matthew 16.24]

The context of this Saying makes it clear that we may legitimately and profitably divide the word \"yourself\ " into its component parts. Verses 25 and 26 talk about the alternatives of saving or losing one\'s \"psyche\" (Gk. text), variously translated as \ "life\" or \"soul\" (see also Mark 8. 34-37). Modern psychology uses the term \"ego\", referring to that part of the inner self that may malfunc tion into a damaging self-centredness. To be a follower of Jesus therefore requires a continual self-assessment of where one\'s true priorities lie.

We steer a tricky course, because Scripture also recommends a true love of self. \"Love your neighbour as your self\" (Leviticus 1 9.18), a command endorsed by Jesus in, for example, Luke 10.29. Not to love and respect oneself is to be less than fully human, and will sour one\'s rela tionships with others as well as with God. The Christian calling is to work at finding a healthy balance between the love of self and the denial of self. A nd this can only be achieved by following the Lord who, by definition, goes on before us day by day into our future (\"I am going to prepare a place for you\" John 14.2).

So we identify those bits of our \'ego\' or self-centredness that tend to erect a barrier between ourselve s and God, realizing how they need to be denied. And we accept the Divine invitation to follow the Lord, by continually reviewing our actions and decisions in the light of his life and teaching, even if this means on occasions accepting a burden (cross) of pain and frustration.

This i s the path in the domain (kingdom) of God along which true joys are to be found. Bearing this in mind, we can fruitfully \"hear and receive\" this Sayi ng for ourselves and also share it in intercession for those whose lives may be blighted by their deviations from the path of faith, trust and godliness.

(Additional note. This Saying will find further illumination if you read and ponder over the Gospel story of the Rich Young Man (Ma rk 10. 17-22), an event important enough to be included with very little alteration in the first three Gospels.)