"If any would follow after me ..."
These are familiar words, words that we read in all three of the Synoptic Gospels, each instance occurring immediately after Jesus teaches the disciples that He, the Son of Man, must suffer many things:
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34, NRSV).
It all sounds so familiar, but what does self-denial look like, for us?
At intervals in church history, self-denial was taken to the point of self-injury; people would undertake severe, almost life-threatening fasts, or engage in behaviors that caused injury, in order to subdue and deny themselves bodily.
But the word that is translated as “deny” yourself can also be translated as “disregard” yourself, or, as my mother said on occasion to me, “Oh, get over yourself!”