Read: Matthew 16:24–28

Then Jesus told His disciples, “If any want to become My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

Self-denial is not merely giving up the things we long for and lust after. In a society and culture that places incredible emphasis on self-realization and self-actualization—and as a result, self-absorption—a call to self-denial could not be more jarring. The call to self-denial is a call to give up one’s personal identity. It is a call to give up our sense of individuality and recognize that everyone and all creation are part of a whole. We are one. There is no “other.” The divisions and separation and sense of alienation and fear between people are a result of misunderstanding the fact that we are one and the same, even though we appear different and disconnected from one another. When we give up our self, we can finally take on our true identity—one people, one family.

Do you focus too much on yourself?

Lord, I look out at the world and I can feel alone and disconnected, as if no one really understands me. The world itself seems consumed with division, alienation, and isolation. What if the root of all our problems is that we do not recognize our inherent interconnectedness? What if we are really One—one with You, one with each other, one with all creation? I know it is time for me to shed my sense of self for a greater sense of You…I am just not sure how to begin. Come to my aid…yet again. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.