Jesus Expects Us to Take Up Our Cross
Jesus told His disciples, “and whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” We’re not worthy to claim His name if we’re not willing to follow Him, wherever that leads. Taking up our cross means denying ourselves daily in order to keep in step with Him.
I laughed when a friend joked, after going on a luxurious cruise, “Ah, that’s just my cross to bear.” But cross-bearing is serious business.
It’s more than a focus on a heavy burden we might carry every day for the rest of our lives, like a debilitating illness or struggles with poverty. Those hard circumstances may indeed burden our soul, but there’s a deeper truth in cross-bearing.
Jesus’ cross wasn’t about the cross itself; it was about what it symbolized. The cross under Roman rule was a shameful device of ridicule, humiliation and torturous death. Jesus came to die such a horrible death. He laid down his life for us. The cross is about submission to the Father’s will.
Followers are called to “die to self”—to crucify their flesh and yield over all they love for His sake. Dying to self will always be hard if we love ourselves too much and Him too little.
Jesus never said countless losses will happen to us if we follow Him, but the question might be asked—a question that reveals our heart—“Am I willing to face loss for Him, even terrible, gut-wrenching loss?”
In the comfortable West, we sometimes find it difficult to step outside our comfort zone and the insulated bubble of many churches; but Christ-followers in the Persecuted Church around the world face challenging, horrific losses for their faith every day. They choose to take up their cross to the glory of Christ, siding with the Overcomer in all their troubles.
We might learn from them how to follow.
Following Jesus is relatively easy when life is carefree and painless; but our commitment is shown during our deepest trials when discipleship is demanding and sacrificial. Our loyalty to Him is revealed when we are mocked, threatened and persecuted.
Taking up our cross involves the choice to surrender our possessions, dreams, fondest hopes, most precious earthly loves and all else for the advancement of God’s purposes and glory. It involves following in the steps of our Savior.
Jesus expects that we will follow Him willingly, loyally, obediently and fully. And He has the right to expect this. Christ-followers do not belong to themselves, but live to honor the Holy One who bids us, “Follow Me.”
Dawn Wilson and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists author and radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, publishes Upgrade with Dawn, and writes for Crosswalk.com. Dawn also travels with her husband in ministry with Pacesetter Global Outreach.
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