Filtering out Self
We must never lose ourselves. Jesus’ first disciples were undeniably independent and although they needed to learn humility and obedience, they were never asked to relinquish their identity. On the contrary, Jesus drew on Peter, Andrew, James and John’s experiences as commercial fishermen when He said he would make them “fishers of men.” When Matthew traded his tax tables for the kingdom, he invited his tax-collection buddies, some other town sinners and Jesus to a feast. Matthew had no intention of hiding his future from his friends, or his past from his Savior. He knew who he was and who he hoped to be.
It is true, in order to follow Jesus, we must crucify self. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Yet, Paul wasn’t suggesting some sort of mindless emptying of personhood. Instead, he was describing a transformation to a new kind of self. In fact, this new self is really the old self, as we all were before our hearts were tainted by sin. One might even say Jesus came to die for our sins so we could be ourselves again. Just as we were created in the image of God, our new life in Jesus restores the “image of the Creator” in us (Colossians 3:10).
This means, when Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, we can be certain He wasn’t asking us to dissolve our membership in the human race. Nor was He necessarily expecting us to put away our passions and dreams. He was, however, inviting us to reorder our lives; to think and act from a different perspective. The cross would become our new reference point and His grace our new environment.