The Art of Saying No
“. . . let him deny himself, . . .” Mark 8:34
Jesus’ call is brief and stark, deny yourself and take up your cross. Jesus is going someplace and He invites you to come along. Jesus’ call to discipleship is strategically placed here, in the center of Mark. We enter the center of the story, without becoming the center of the story. In this verse, Mark takes us aside to hear Jesus invite us to become full participants in salvation, we are invited to die His death and live His life.
The danger of discipleship is self-absorption. Whenever one becomes focused on matters of the soul, it results in treating God like a mere accessory to personal experience. Real discipleship is the vigilant pursuit of training us into full and mature participation in His salvation, while at the same time, not being the center of the story.
Following Jesus means fine-tuning our perception and acquiring a taste for all Jesus is revealing. This is a struggle because our senses have been dulled by sin, it has obliterated our ability to long for the things of God. The world has drained us of a desire to know Him deeply. The call to discipleship requires a good, solid, heartfelt “no”!
To go, means saying “no.” To say “yes” to the journey to which He calls you, one must be willing to say “no” to the old journey. Saying “no” is what enables us to say “yes.” Following Jesus means not following in the obsessive self-seeking ideology of this culture, which only ends in a diminished life hardly worth living.
Saying “no!” is an act of freedom. To realize I don’t have to give in to my appetites, or the ambitions culture tells me to run after. A strong “no” to the old, dead-end ways of the world keeps me from many empty pursuits, it frees me from destructive distractions or being seduced by senseless sensualities.
A devout “no” sweeps away the clutter of self-pretension. It makes room for access to Jesus. A wholehearted “no” embraces and prepares us to die, and live in the way of our Master. Delivering a declarative “no,” frees me to follow Jesus.
What people, places and things do you need to say “no” to in order to give your “yes” to God?