so one of the invitations of jesus is to ‘deny ourselves’ to follow after him. the word for deny in the hebrew means to contradict ourselves. that in life, if we choose to follow the movement of jesus, that there will be moments where all we will want to do is serve our own ego. where our ego will want to take front seat and precedence over the needs and ego’s of others. jesus says that those who spend their time making life about them are not part of this movement. but, this idea is so much more and less about exclusion. it typically gets translated to mean that those who are ‘in’ with jesus are those who are dying to their own ego or that jesus is asking us to give up dreams and this is not the case at all. but jesus also doesnt make the above separation, the invitation is for those who are willing to learn how to die to our own ego and finding ways to die to our own ego by serving others, and taking care of the other — when we do this, we are following christ. i know many people who don’t claim to follow jesus who are following jesus because they are learning to master the art of dying to themselves. too many time we use certain christian language to make the distinction between those who ‘follow’ jesus and those who don’t. jesus simply invites everyone to follow and doesn’t make that clear of a distinction. in fact, when jesus says ‘they will know that you follow me by your love’; jesus isn’t making a rule for his followers or creating membership requirements — he is saying that if you love other people (christian or non-christian) that it is the same as if you are following me. and also the idea behind following someone in the first-century is linked up with the idea of being just like that person. and so, essentially jesus is saying when a person dies to their own ego and loves others beyond themselve they are being just like him. just like him.