Summary: Following Jesus is an all or nothing proposal, and far too many so-called "believers" are riding the fence, playing a game, or trying to look devout when their character shows otherwise. Either follow and obey Him, or be honest in your unbelief and leave.
In today's social set-up, especially here in America, the prevailing philosophy seems to be, "I want it, and I want it NOW!" Young people are crying out for this at a pace that is bordering on the ridiculous, petty, and unrealistic. I do not see even the slightest awareness in most of them of a desire to work hard, establish sound and rational goals, and persevere through the rough waters of life to make something of themselves rather than letting some grunion in the political or media spectrum tell them what they have to do or pound into their heads the idea that they are somehow "oppressed", "violated", underprivileged" or that they have to take things by force and usher in some kind of national chaos to get their way, casualties not withstanding.
Commitment and responsibility are becoming, like religious belief in this nation, less admirable and desirable as the days progress. People do not want to take the time and effort to think through and establish an independent frame of mind that just might be more worthwhile than being content with mediocrity and indifference towards life and purpose. People want "stuff", not substance. To even consider someone else's needs or feelings seems to be a lost cause. When someone regardless of age, income, nationality, or other factor starts to declare that "it's all about them", it is really about the sin nature that we all possess and love to coddle, and God hates it, regardless of what you think, feel, or say. If you are offended by this bluntness on my part, I say with all kindness, "I don't care." The truth of human nature has to be presented in one way or another, and I will not sugar coat or try to explain away the blatant evil nature we have that loves wickedness, deceit, cheating, selfishness, vanity, and self-love at the expense of your soul.
Self-centeredness and egotism have crept into the modern church like a cancer, where the desire to "plant a seed of blessing and prosperity" on one's part takes precedence over a hunger for holiness and a desire to imitate and follow Jesus no matter the cost or hardship. The late Keith Green produced a song entitled "Asleep in the Light", where he admonished his fellow Christians for crying out for constant blessings on their behalf while the world is spiraling down into eternal darkness. We play a game of "Sanctification" on Sundays, but we act like the world the rest of the week. A.W. Tozer called out for Christians to be holy in conduct and be examples of what Jesus wants from those who claim to follow Him. Playing a part where one looks "blessed and highly favored" but is just as spiritually poor as the garden variety pagan neighbor is doing nothing but driving people away from the open arms of a loving Savior who offers comfort and rest for their weary souls (Matthew 11:28-30). If we are honest in our relationship with Jesus, we are all guilty of two-faced behavior and speech one or more times in our lives, and must be dealt with in prayer, repentance, and renewal of our hearts towards Him. Our fallow ground needs to be broken up every so often for the seeds of God's Word and direction to take root and grow in us (Jeremiah 4:3).
We cannot allow ourselves to be led by the world or our flesh as the days draw nearer for the LORD'S return. We who are spiritual (Galatians 6:1-5) need to take our eyes off of ourselves, our desires, our wants, and to instead re-engage in intercessory prayer, self-denial, godly behavior, and renew our reverence and worship of the Sovereign LORD God Almighty. Look at Mark 8:34-38, the main verses of this message, and see that the Lord Jesus makes demands of everyone who is sick and tired of their sins, who no longer want to bear wounded hearts that have endured varied levels of emotional, physical, and mental hell, who now want to be free, forgiven, and made new. He demands that we die to self-centeredness, to get our minds and eyes off of our own little world and our "I" disease. We are to focus on Him and take up the instrument of death to the flesh, namely the cross (Romans 6:6). We are not our own when we give our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20). He owns us from that moment on and can do with us as He wishes for His glory. If we are serious about being a real Christian, then get this point into your system -He is on the throne of your life from now on. You need to abdicate and hand over the crown to Him. He made you (Genesis 1:26; John 1:1-4; Colossians 1:16-18). Don't you think He knows what is best for you?