In the midst of so many debates about social issues today—the definition of marriage perhaps chief among them—much is made of one question: How could God condemn people merely “for being me,” as one person plaintively put it to a newspaper columnist?
Well, what are the options open to God?
What if “being me” involved robbing banks? I might enjoy money and the things it can buy, so why not just help myself to some cash? Or what if “being me” involved some other behavior that would dishonor my family?
God, on the other hand, sees things differently: there are standards, there is a “right” and a “wrong,” and we are called by Him to choose the road that leads to life and not death (Deut. 30:19).
What does that mean to someone struggling with a choice that is clearly against God’s commandments? It means having to make a decision: follow your will or submit to God’s.
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me,” Jesus said in Matthew 16:24 (NKJV).1 The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary adds this counsel: “The would-be disciple must first renounce himself, his own plans, his own desires; then he must be willing to bear any cross that duty calls him to ‘take up;’ finally, he must ‘follow’ in the footsteps of Jesus (see 1 Peter 2:21).”2
Self-denial isn’t a popular choice, nor is it always the easy one. But it is the right choice, and perhaps the only option for those wishing to truly follow Jesus.