Christlike Self-Interest

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?  (Mk 8:35-36, The Message)

Meditation:

The adage, “What would Jesus do (“WWJD”), takes on new meaning at this point.  Day by day, the Holy Spirit synchronizes my self-interest with divine purpose.  In prayer, the Holy Spirit molds my desires into a Godly perspective.  Likewise, in faith’s first steps, the Holy Spirit begins re-shaping my character and self-interest to become more like Christ’s. Resurrection power re-forms my character.  My true self-interest is freed.  The Holy Spirit reveals my life’s potential as creation intended.  For the restored believer, the new “WWJD” is “WIMSI” (“What is my self-interest”). 

Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, witnessed to non-believers telling them, “God has a plan and purpose for your life”.  We should re-phrase this promise for believers.  Resurrection power (Rom 8:11) gives me spiritual discernment and victory to live the plan and purpose that Christ intended.  As the Holy Spirit re-shapes our plan and purpose, then energizes our life, our behavior, direction and goals to soar with Christlike potential.   

Christ’s Self-Interest:  Paul explained the believer’s self-interest to the Philippians this way, 

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! … Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings … will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. (Phil 2:5-11 excerpts, The Message)

My Self-Interest:   Since I have the power to live apart from sin’s shackles, what is in my true self-interest?  Christ’s desire becomes my desire.  In his sermon, The “Weight of Glory”, CS Lewis wrote,

“Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink, sex, and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Application

Christ’s self-interest was the purest expression of His purpose.  Christ laid aside glory and power to accomplish His self-interest: our redemption.  Likewise, our Christlike self-interest should be the purest reflection of our own purpose.  My heart softens as Christ’s might.  My backbone stiffens as Christ’s might.  My actions and reactions as a husband, father and friend assume a Christlike posture. 

In my self-interest, I maintain relationships and nurture friendships.  Shared work builds bonds.  Partners strengthen each another. Partners pick-up the other when one falls or fails. Partners heal us when we feel helpless.  Partners weep with us in dejection.  Partners mend us when we tear.  Together, partners withstand storms.  (Eccles 4:1-12)  God made Eve for Adam so that he would not be alone.  David and Jonathan shared bonds of trust and encouragement.  Moses and Aaron shared a partnership that overcame the other’s weaknesses.  Elijah and Elisha shared friendship and mentorship as transitioning prophets.  Ruth showed Naomi unconditional love, loyalty and self-sacrifice.  Envy, strife and loneliness (Eccles 4: 16) are defeated by our sacrificial self-interest to love our family, friends and associates … in the fullest expression of Christlikeness.    

Next Steps

Michael W Smith, “The Same Power (Lyrics)”, 2015

“It is not in our self-interest to be selfish. Rather, self-denial is in our self-interest.”  Art Lindsley, PhD, Vice President of theological initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics.

Christlike self-interest is only possible through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.  Michael W Smith, 2015, recorded a moving song called, “The Same Power”.  Enjoy it here