I was thinking about Jesus and the rich young ruler. We usually associate that story with giving up money or status or what-not to follow Jesus. But I think it is bigger than that. I feel this example from Jesus' time on earth shows us that He wants us to give up our sin, our pride, ourselves, whatever the cost. And the cost is usually the very thing we desire the most.
The man wanted to be identified with Christ and inherit eternal life - but he didn't want to be discipled by Him. Seems like things haven't changed much. We want the blessings of being a Christian, we want the label, but we don't want the sacrifice. We don't want the hard work. We don't want to be told, even by Jesus, what to do or not do. We want to be a Jesus-name-dropper, but not someone Christ disciples. We don't really want Him, or His standards, in our business.
The man is sad when Jesus tells him what he has to do. Give something up and follow Him. The young man responds by walking away.
Notice Jesus doesn't run after him. Jesus doesn't beg that guy, "Pretty please follow Me. It's no big deal, your heart-issues, your sin. I can compromise. I can overlook it."
Jesus is love, so we automatically think Jesus and His followers should just overlook things and label it grace. No.
I love how John Piper puts it, "Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon."
Jesus is love and because of that He wants us to be holy. He wanted that rich young ruler to give up his former way of life because He had something better for him that could only be received by embracing holiness - which is only possible through a true and growing relationship with Him.
Jesus confronted the rich young man. Jesus loved him by doing the very thing that so many today would say is judgmental. Jesus doesn't expect us to be perfect - the people He hung around with, including His disciples, were pretty screwed up.
But the difference between the rich young ruler and the ragtag group of people that Jesus empowered to change the world was that they were willing to give Jesus their imperfections and be changed by living according to His Word, by His grace, and by His Spirit.
Jesus loves us and calls us to holiness. Not a list but a lifestyle. A willingness to surrender our pride for His purposes.