Take up your cross
Take up your cross
Jesus has called me to take up my cross and follow him, and to be bored for the rest of my life, to not have anymore fun or doing anything for myself but its all for God. I will eat food with no taste never go to the movies again and sit in the back of the church with a holy frown for the rest of my life. Come on really!!?? That is not what it means to take up the cross of Christ but I can tell you that is the first thought that comes to many minds. Let’s look at what Jesus was actually saying
Jesus had just commended Peter for speaking truthfully about who Jesus was. But then after Jesus begins to explain what that means and how he is to fulfill the prophecies and die on the cross and then rise again from the dead Peter challenges him and gets rebuked. And quite harshly. He isn’t calling Peter Satan but he is rightly identifying the author of such ideas that caused Peter to disagree with Jesus in the first place.
God’s agenda or my agenda- Why did Peter get rebuked? Jesus said he had set his mind on the things of man, not God. He didn’t want Jesus to suffer and die. It didn’t make sense to him. he would rather see Jesus lead a rebellion and take over sit on the throne as King and defy Caesar. Why because they were waiting to rule with Christ. However, this was not God’s Plan God’s agenda was much greater than temporary kingdoms of a world that was perishing. His was to establish an eternal kingdom without evil or corruption by sin.
We often do the same thing as Peter. We may call Jesus the Christ and say he is our savior but like Peter have our minds set on the things of this world. We want God to accomplish our agenda to bless our plans instead of seeking his agenda and his plans for our life. We say Lord bless me with a job, Lord bless me with a house, Lord bless me with a husband or a wife, Lord bless my life but what do we do in return? We say thank God and put him in the trunk like a spare tire until we need him again and go about our life as if the divine God of heaven never intervened.
Comfort or the cross- did Jesus say “take up your pillow and follow me”? Jesus did not die on the cross so we could live comfortable lives but to save us from the corrupting power of sin that we might be transformed into his likeness. Like Peter, we struggle with the bigger picture. We understand how to do religion and put God in a box marked Sunday morning. But Jesus was speaking about something greater than ourselves. A long-term plan to redeem humanity and for us to understand our role in that plan.
Taking up your cross- isn’t east because the world the flesh and the devil tempt us to lay the cross down and just focus on ourselves.
Is a choice– Jesus chose to go to the cross to fulfill God’s plan. A cross is not something that just happens to you. It is not a trial or some difficult circumstance in your life. It is a conscious choice on your part to do God’s will, to accomplish his purposes, to live for him and not just for yourself.
Jesus said what does it matter if you gain the whole world but lose your soul. What a waste to live one’s life without any thought of their greater purpose.
Jesus shared a parable in luke 12 about a man who only lived for the comforts of this world and accumulating things and then Jesus said you fool this very night your life is required of you. His life was over an all he had done was waste the time God had given him with thinking only of himself. Let that not be us. Let us consider how we may serve God while we have time.
Is done out of love– it was love that drove Jesus to the cross not a mere sense of duty but in order, he could set free those who were captive to sin. Likewise, if we love him, we will live for him and also look to the needs of others. One thing there is no lack of in this world are people who are in need materially, they need food and clothes, emotionally they just need someone to listen to them, spiritually they need someone to encourage them and tell them the good news of Jesus Christ.
Is done in service to God– How are you serving Christ, are you building up other believers by serving, volunteering. Every life affects other lives. How are you gifted what are you passionate about and are you using that for God? some of you are evangelists, some of you are encouragers, some are prayer warriors, some are merciful givers when people are in need.
Every one of us will have moments day to day in this life were God is giving us an opportunity to subdue our own wants, desires or comforts, our hunger or tiredness, or just wanting to be somewhere else in order to provide for or minister to or teach or encourage or provide for or love another. Some will pick their cross and experience the joy and pleasure of God others will just continue on not wanting to be inconvenienced by the voice of God.
Is kingdom minded– ultimately it’s about having a kingdom mindset. This means that your mind is set on the kingdom of God and his purposes. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. What things. All those blessings that you were seeking. If you make God the priority everything else false into place without all the worry and anxiety that comes with over-focusing on those things.
Is not to be ashamed to stand for truth. Crucifixion was vas a very public and painful means of execution. Jesus endured the shame of the cross in order that we might be saved. When one lives a crucified life it means being open to public shame and ridicule for what we believe and what we stand for. Anyone can be a Christian in a culture where it is found to be a respectable belief system. But what about when they call you a bigot and slander you and falsely accuse you in the public forum because you stand with Jesus and what the Bible teaches will you blend into the crowd as not to call attention to yourself? Will you try to nuance your belief systems to make it seem more acceptable or will you look into the eyes of Jesus as he walks toward the cross and say wait, Jesus, I’m coming with you let me pick this up. pick up your cross and follow him. you can either be in the crowd that is perishing or you can walk the road that Jesus walked but you can’t do both.