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Throwback Thursday – Originally Published March 18, 2010

If you asked someone to write down what they think of you in 140 characters or less, what would they write about you? Would Christ come through loud and clear or would it be a mixed message? Would they write more about you or about Christ? What would you write about yourself?

Sometimes the opinion we have about ourselves is different than reality. An article in the Feb. 18, 2009 issue of Scientific American, “Think You’re Good Looking? Think Again” detailed a study that showed people often over inflate how they view their own physical appearance. Study participants were asked to identify their face out of eleven pictures that were actually modified images of themselves. Most of the time, the person chose the more attractive image, even over an actual picture of themselves.

“It is perhaps of little wonder, then, that people so rarely seem to like the photographs taken of themselves,” remarked the authors of the study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Our selfish desires can paint an image of ourselves that makes us think we are better than others. Even the disciples fell into this trap. In Mark 9:33-35, Jesus asks them what they were talking about as they walked along the road. The disciples don’t answer “because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.” (NLT) Jesus then tells his disciples, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and servant of all.” (NIV)

Christ helps us see the sinful image of our life that we do not want to look at. He gives us the Spirit to help us serve Him instead of ourselves. Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.”

Throwback Thursday – This post was originally published March 8, 2010

In the digital age, it’s easy to follow someone. With one click of a mouse, you can become a follower of most anyone on Twitter. A decision to follow Christ can be the same. Just click on the “follow” button for Jesus and read the scripture tweets each day. But a true follower of Jesus will go much further than that.

When the disciples decided to follow Jesus, they left behind everything to follow Him. Simon (Peter) and Andrew left behind their career as fishermen and followed Jesus’ call (Mark 1:16-18). James and John also left their fishing career behind to follow Jesus and left their father Zebedee and his hired hands holding the nets (Mark 1:19-20). Matthew immediately left his tax collection booth to follow Jesus (Matt. 9:9).

Their choice to follow Christ required self sacrifice. Imagine Zebedee calling after his sons as they walk away with Jesus, “Hey! Where do you think you’re going? There’s work to do here.” Imagine how Matthew felt when the Pharisees criticized Jesus for dining in his home with the likes of tax collectors and sinners (Matt. 9:11). To the disciples, this wasn’t some casual friendship. They left behind their old life and took on a new life with Christ.

A commitment to follow Jesus  means replacing self with Christ. It’s a decision that must be made each day. In Luke 9:23, Jesus tells the crowd, “If anyone of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me.” (NLT) His promise is that if you give up your life for Him, you will find true life.

Photo: U. S. Army Signal Corps photograph in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston

It’s hard to believe it was 50 years ago today when John F. Kennedy gave his inaugural speech. On that day he recited those now infamous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” It was a stirring challenge that inspired a generation.

Yet that inspiration seems to have lost its shine. In a segment on the Kennedy inaugural on the CBS Sunday Morning show this week, Charles Osgood concluded the piece with a striking point. A recent poll showed that almost 80 percent of Americans are more interested in what our country can do for them. Only 15 percent said they were more interested in what they could do for their country.

It made me think about my faith in Jesus. If I slightly modify Kennedy’s famous quote to read, “Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God,” how would I respond? Would I be enthusiastic about wanting to serve God or would I be more apt to look for what God can do for me? I question if I would be more like the 80 percent who want to serve as opposed to the 15 percent who want to serve?

Jesus says in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NIV) It’s a challenge that requires us to put God ahead of self. As Jesus says in Matthew 16:24, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (NLT)

On this day in the history of your life, ask yourself what you can do for God.

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