I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Dane Ortlund’s book Defiant Grace, but you ought to get your hands on a copy. Briefly but deeply exploring the good news of Christ’s kingdom in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Ortlund’s book is four shots of straight gospel whisky. Here’s one of my favorite passages, from his chapter on Mark’s Gospel:
To take up the cross is to take up joy — painful joy, but real joy. For to take up the cross is to walk with the one who in great love bore the ultimate cross in our place. Aim at joy, and you will miss it. Aim at Christ, and his cross-bearing call, and you will find it.
Contrary as it is to all presuppositions, the way to save our life is to lose it. Death was the way to life for Jesus. Death is the way to life for Jesus’ disciples. “Die before you die. There is no chance after,” remarks a character in C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces.
If we tunnel in to the very heart of Christian discipleship as articulated by Mark, we find, echoing the mission of Jesus himself, this startling principle: loss is gain. Death is life. Yielding all guarantees receiving all. Self-denial for the sake of the gospel is the secret to saving our life. This was the way the upside-down mission of Jesus worked out, and it is the path of discipleship for his people. Glad abandon is our only sanity.
Contrary to what all our instincts of self-preservation whisper to us every day, abandonment to Jesus is the safest investment we can make. Our only security is renunciation of all that this world holds secure.
– Dane Ortlund, Defiant Grace: The Surprising Message and Mission of Jesus (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: EP Books, 2011), 61.