With this being the third week in a row that I'm quoting The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, I think it's safe to say I'm being impacted by the classic.
This week's quote is a challenge for everyone who has prayed for a blessing from God. Feel free to put on some steel-toed shoes.
Jesus has many lovers of his heavenly kingdom but few bearers of his cross. Many desire to rejoice with him, but few are willing to undergo adversity for his sake. Many follow Jesus that they may eat of his bread, but few are willing to drink of the cup of his suffering. Many praise him and bless him, so long as they receive comforts from him....But those who love Jesus for Jesus' sake - and not for the comforts he gives to them - praise him in all suffering and sorrow just as they do in the greatest blessings. And if he should never give them another blessing, they would nevertheless continue to always praise him and give him thanks.
Oh, how powerful is the pure love of Jesus - unmixed with any material benefits or love of self! Shouldn't all those constantly seeking his blessing be called mercenaries? Don't those who are always seeking their own gain and advantage show themselves to be lovers of themselves more than lovers of Christ?
It reminds me of the Keith Green song, Asleep in the Light: "Bless me, Lord. Bless me, Lord. You know it's all I ever hear. No one aches. No one hurts, No one even sheds one tear. But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds, and He cares for your needs, and you just lay back and keep soaking it in."
Truth is...When Jesus, in Matthew 16:24, said "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me," he wasn't talking about being nice to little old ladies and giving to the church offering. Taking up a cross meant accepting death and saying, with Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ. The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20)