"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." - Matthew 16:24
Several days ago, I shared some thoughts about denying yourself. I would like to share a few thoughts about what comes next after denying yourself, taking up your cross. Again, this is not something that we like to talk about because it does not sound as appealing as John 3:16 to our flesh.
Do you realize that "your cross" is God's will for you, regardless of the cost? The sad reality is that this message of Christ has been lost in our modern day contemporary Christianity. We try to tell people that they can follow Christ without having to first deny themselves and without them having to take up their cross. Taking up your cross is not an option if you are going to truly follow Jesus Christ and be obedient to His Word.
I'm afraid there is also confusion today about what constitutes taking up our cross for Christ. Modern American Christianity says that taking up your cross could involve having health problems, a rebellious child, financial pressures, or even the consequences you face as a result of your actions. However, these things are not the cross that you and I have to bear. The cross that we are to bear is the voluntary participation in Christ's sufferings. Notice what Paul says in Philippians 1:29, "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." Then in Philippians 3:10 Paul writes, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death."
Many Christians also have the tendency to go from denying themselves to following Jesus, but they leave out taking up their cross. We can never truly follow Jesus Christ until we have denied ourselves and then taken up our cross first. Just as Jesus Christ had to suffer and die on the cross to bring salvation, you and I may have to endure suffering for God to bring salvation to those around us. Something else very interesting is that Jesus did not talk with the disciples about the cross until they had come to know He was the Christ. You will never be able to endure the suffering of your cross unless you are convinced that Jesus is the Christ.
I'm afraid that contemporary, modern, American Christianity has forgotten this message, but there can be no Christianity without the cross. It does not sound appealing, desirable, or glamorous but God's will for you and I involves a cross. If you and I are going to truly follow Jesus Christ, then we must deny ourselves and take up our cross.
Are you willing to bear your cross?
Prayer For Today:
Heavenly Father, give me the strength to not only deny myself, but give me the strength to take up my cross and follow Christ. Lord, may You be glorified through my bearing of this cross and may it point others to the Savior. In Jesus name, Amen!