Luke 9:23 tells us we have to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to follow Jesus.
The cross is painful.
The cross is the weight of our sins.
The cross is death.
Following Jesus requires dying.
We die to self and live for Christ by whom we are rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into His kingdom (Colossians 1:13).
What do we find after we deny ourselves and pick up our crosses?
We become united with our savior, one with God.
Can there be a greater pleasure than being in the presence of the all-glorious, triumphant, eternal and living God?
And yet, we always feel it will be so difficult for non-Christians to accept the sacrifice it takes to follow Jesus.
You have to give up drunkenness, distasteful parties, and casual sleeping around, but this is only an issue in the wrong perspective.
Turning away from sin (as defined through the Word of God) is a far greater blessing than continuing to live in the trap that it is.
Living in sin may bring temporary pleasure, but those sinful desires will all lead to death.
God is not a God of the dead, but of the living (Mark 12:27).
Jesus wants you to find life and that abundantly (John 10:10), but there must first be a detachment to sin and the consequences attached to it.
After we die to self, the risen Lord lives within us (Galatians 2:20). The Holy Spirit fills us (Acts 1:5). We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17).
After we move into a glorious covenant with the living God, we receive pleasures that we never knew possible.
Following Jesus is not about forsaking pleasure. It's about finding joy in God who gives generously to all who ask.
My daily sacrifices to follow Jesus are not worth comparing to the eternal glory waiting to be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).
No, the challenge is not for those who live in sin, but those who have dedicated themselves to foreign gods, those who try to live good lives but can never be sure of their level of righteousness.
If only they could feel the glory of the true God, though, there would be no turning back to any idol, but we have to be the ones who must walk into the throne room of God first and receive the gift of the grace of His presence if we are to relay to others the goodness and the truth of our risen Lord.
We don't seek pleasure. We seek the Lord. And when we find Him, we'll never expect what will happen next.