By Chris Martin
As followers of Jesus, our allegiance is to the King, and His kingdom is our priority. Submitting to Christ as King is an act of worship.
Dr. Kent Brantly earned an undergraduate degree in biblical literature from Abilene Christian University in 2003. He then went on to earn his medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2009, after completing his residency in maternal-child health at a hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. He and his family then moved to Monrovia, Liberia, to serve with World Medical Mission, the medical missionary arm of Samaritan’s Purse. While treating patients of the Ebola virus in 2014, he contracted the deadly virus himself, and was then evacuated to Emory University Hospital where he recovered. Five years later, he returned with his family to Africa, this time to work in Zambia.
Now, not everyone is called overseas; there are certainly fine doctors and professionals of all kinds who serve God with their gifts wherever they are. But as I consider what it means to live as a citizen of God’s kingdom in my everyday life, Dr. Kent Brantly is a source of inspiration. His obedience to Christ led him to deny himself at great expense, almost costing him his life.
Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Our default setting is to do whatever is best for ourselves. Sin most often leads us to take the easiest route, the path of least resistance. Faithful obedience calls us to a higher standard; we are to put God and His kingdom before ourselves and our selfish pursuits.
Only a fool would deny himself if this life were all we have. But we know that our lives are much more than this 80-to-90-year existence we experience on earth. To deny ourselves today and tomorrow and the next day is to invest in a kingdom that is forever. God in Christ calls us to come and die so that we may live! What a glorious trade to give up ourselves in this short life to experience the fullness of life and beauty.
In what ways might we take up our crosses and deny ourselves every day? Perhaps one of the easiest ways to practice this would be to make time with the Lord a priority above anything else we may want to do. Do you spend time in Scripture or in prayer before you watch television or play video games? What does it say about our priorities if we always find time to go hang out with the guys, but we can’t find time to serve at church? The denial of self is unnatural because righteousness and obedience are unnatural. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to convict us and turn our hearts toward the Savior we worship.