Another author I have been reading to help bring insight into this idea of denial of self is Norman Grubb. He tells the story of his own journey of realizing the importance of giving up self. He writes, “I had thought for quite some time that I was somebody, but then I got it: Christ is all and in all! I saw for the first time that the reason for human existence was not to be something, but to CONTAIN Someone. Though we feel self to be important, I learned that self is extremely unimportant. There is only one Self in the universe who is really important. There is only one person in the universe who ever called himself, “I AM.”
After reading Norman Grubb, I am beginning to get the idea that Jesus was talking about the self that each of us creates apart from God. The self that clamors to get noticed, makes sure others are watching when good deeds are performed, and seeks pleasure at all costs. Many theologians and psychologists have referred to this as the “false self” or the “ego.” The self we try to construct in order to be accepted, noticed and loved by people. Maybe this is the self that Jesus is asking us to say no to.