I find it very interesting how Jesus reacted initially to people who sought after Him. Let’s take a look at Mark 8:34 “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Jesus did not soft pedal His comments to those who inquired about being His disciples. He stated that to follow Him and become His disciple, a person “must deny themselves and take up their cross.” His prerequisite to be a Christ-follower was “you must deny yourself.” Another way of saying this is that a person who desires to be His disciple can no longer live for themselves and their own kingdom. They have to die to their own kingdom (“take up their cross”) and commit totally to Jesus and His kingdom.
One may consider that Jesus’ comments were harsh. Actually, He was being very loving. His kingdom is abundant, purposeful and meaningful vs. the self-centered, self-serving life in our kingdom. Let’s face it, the kingdom of “me” is vapor, worthless, empty, hurtful to others and bankrupt. Now contrast the “me” life to the Spirit filled life of His Kingdom. The “fruit of the Spirit” is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
His solution to each of us who are buried in worry, constant anxiety, hurt, failure, rejection, disappointments, hatred, bitterness, guilt, without purpose is found in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (that are needed for a fruitful life) will be added to you.” Deny self (not about your kingdom) and seek Him first, and all the things that you need to live abundantly will be added to you.
Read this “electric” passage found in 2 Corinthians 5:14&15, “14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” You die to self, no longer living for yourself but for Him who died and rose again for you. Someone who is willing to give their life up for you is worthy of your sole, undivided allegiance.
Whose kingdom are you living for?