These days it seems to be the rage to write articles espousing the “The 3 Keys to This” or the “7 Steps to That”. Everyone seems to be looking for a quick fix or at least some concrete guidance to getting to where they want to be. It made me ponder what I might consider to be the keys to following Christ. If I could boil it all down to a few concepts, what would they be? As I mulled it over, I kept coming back to a single thought: think less about yourself. Perhaps following Jesus really is that simple.
Everything needed to be a Christ follower seems to flow out of thinking less about ourselves. If there was one overarching quality throughout the ministry of Jesus, it was that He always put the needs of others before His own. That’s what love does, and love always thinks about the needs of its object rather than the needs of its source (I Corinthians 13:4-8).
We get in trouble when we put too much emphasis on our own problems. If we’re honest with ourselves, those problems are pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. When we think less about ourselves, we forget our petty issues and focus on the substantial needs of others. This allows us to live like sheep instead of goats (Matthew 25:31-46), a requirement of Jesus if we are to be welcomed into His presence.
Thinking less about ourselves causes us to honor God with the time and money He has entrusted to us. We have a very limited amount of time here on earth. It’s tempting to pursue fun and pleasure. We want the best of what this life has to offer. The problem is that sin has already tainted all that was good in this world. Our focus must be on what is truly good and will not pass away. This would include things that are true, honorable, just, and pure (Philippians 4:8).
When we think less about ourselves, we allow more room to think about Jesus. We will never become the person He created us to be unless we are spending focused time with Him. Through prayer and the study of His Word, we develop an intimate relationship with God and discover all He created us to be. As His thoughts become our thoughts, we are then able to share His message of love and redemption with others. We are equipped to go out and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 6:10-18).
Following Christ is very simple. Please note there is a vast difference between simple and easy. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is hard. You will need to swim against the current. You must be countercultural. Bucking societal trends opens you up to ridicule and derision. Your friends and family may abandon you. In some parts of the world, they might even kill you. This is what it takes to follow Jesus and love Him above all else. The way of the cross is not easy, but it is simple if we just think less about ourselves.