Taking Up Your Cross

Text: Luke 9:23
Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (NRSV)

What does it mean for us to take up our cross each day and follow Jesus?  I remember when I was young hearing people in the church talk about the “cross they had to bear.”  It was usually in reference to some long-term situation that was unpleasant for them.  Sometimes it would be an older person who was suffering with arthritis.  Sometimes it would be someone who had serious allergies.  Every now and again, I would even hear someone talk about the cross they had to bear in the context of dealing with a particularly difficult spouse.

If we think about this carefully, none of these things have anything to do with what Jesus is talking about.  Jesus is not talking about dealing with unpleasant difficulties that are a result of living in a broken world.  The cross was not something that was unpleasant, the cross was a cruel and unusual instrument of torture and death.  The end result of carrying a cross was the end of your life, not joint pain, sneezing and watery eyes, or an argumentative spouse.

Jesus is telling those who want to follow him that they must completely turn their backs on their current way of life.  He is talking about a radical change that is as radical as dying to who one is now and becoming someone completely different.  He is talking about a complete metamorphosis.

And Jesus is saying that this is not a limited time event.  If one is going to truly follow Jesus, one must do this each and every day of their lives.  This change is an ongoing way of life.  We don’t just do it when it is convenient.  We don’t just do it while we are home alone.  We don’t just do it while we are at work or at school.  We live a radically changed life 24/7 from now and forever more.

Are you following Jesus?  Have you denied your old way of life?  Have you left the old things behind?  Have you died to yourself and begun to live the radically different life to which Jesus has called you?

Pray with me:

God of love and God of a radical new way remind me of the commitment I have made when I call myself a Christian.  Continually pour your Holy Spirit into my life that I might continue to live in a way that always brings honor and glory to you. AMEN.

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