Following Jesus - Take Up Your Cross

March 11, 2018

Matthew 16:24

 Last week we looked at the first command to follow Jesus which was to deny ourselves. We discovered we must deny sin in our lives, deny being self-centered, and wholly submit ourselves unto the will of God by following Jesus. This week we will look at what it means to take up our cross. What does it mean to take up your cross?

 1                    Your Cross

A lot of people do not understand what this means. Your “cross” is God’s will for your life, regardless of the cost. Taking up your cross is a choice; it is not beyond your control. You may have issues in life such as financial pressures, a rebellious child, or even health issues, but these issues we deal with are not the cross that you are to bear. Neither circumstances you face nor consequences of your own actions are your cross. Your cross will be to voluntarily participate in Christ’s actions as He carries out His redemptive purposes through your personal life. The Bible says, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10) We are called on to participate in the activities and sufferings required to bring others into the Christian faith as well as helping them grow and mature as believers. The Bible says, “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church.” (Colossians 1:24) We who are the church of the Lord Jesus Christ have a cross to bear which means work to do!

Do you understand that your participation, support, involvement, and efforts are required from you in order to bear your cross and fulfill the redemptive purposes of God? That is evidenced by people being saved and people growing in the Lord!

2                    No Shortcuts

 We tend to be persuaded by many who want an easy Christianity. Many people do not want to be responsible for doing their part. These people are recognized as people who do not attend regularly, serve regularly, give regularly, volunteer often if any, and are not willing to sacrifice in any way for the church to fulfill God’s purposes.  We tend to want to go immediately from denying ourselves to flowing Jesus. You can never follow Jesus unless you have first taken up your cross. There are aspects of God’s redemptive work that can be accomplished through people who are willing to pay the price even to the point of suffering. Jesus had to suffer in order to bring salvation. There will be hardships you may have to endure in order for God to bring salvation to those around you. Jesus did not talk with His disciples about the cross until they had come to know He was the Christ. Once you have established your relationship with Christ, He will introduce you to your cross.

Are you willing to do whatever it takes to be pleasing to God?

Why don’t you help bear the load that others may be struggling with and who are looking for someone to help.

I pray continually that the Holy Spirit will guide more people to get involved in the glorious work of the Kingdom of God.

 3                    Reality

There is no Christianity without a cross. If you are waiting for a relationship with God that never requires sacrifice, suffering, or inconvenience, then you cannot use Christ as your model. God’s will for you involves a cross. First, take up your cross; then you can follow Him. Tim Keller says, “If your God never disagrees with you, you might be worshiping an idealized version of yourself.” This would be considered the worst idolatry there is where any person would be considered more important than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Consider the reality of your faith and your call to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus!