Our group began tonight with a very challenging question: what is it to deny oneself? It is here that we are confronted with the full force of the gospel as reflected through the lived experience of the fathers. To deny oneself is to embrace the cross freely, to be ready for every affliction. It is the willingness to reject everything in this world to attain what Christ promises. We must be willing to be hated by the world as Christ himself was hated by the world, to prepare ourselves for complete dissolution for the sake of eternal life.
It is a jarring reality and turns our worldview upside down. There must be a willingness within us to estrange ourselves from everything that produces slackness. Our desire for Christ and to share in His life leads us along the same path that he trod - into the desert to strip ourselves of the false self.
This led us as a group to discuss what this means for us who live in the world. What does it mean to be a Christian, to embrace the fullness of the life of holiness that Christ has called us to? Have we been so formed by the culture that we have created an image of Christ that allows us to remain focused on the world and not the kingdom? How do we evangelize? Do we settle for something less than being conformed to Christ in every way such that others encounter Him through us? Do we live a life of perpetual adoration - a life that is a sacrifice of praise.