Taking up your cross and following Jesus is difficult because we must relinquish our desires for the Lord. Taking up the cross is good, but we may falsely think it happens without effort. As people, we take medication to alleviate pain. We also see doctors and other medical professionals to pursue pain-free living. In our minds, we want pain removed.
Unfortunately, many people apply this same strategy to their spiritual lives. We may think being a follower of Jesus is meant to be pleasant and pain-free. But this is far from the truth. The Lord molds and shapes us to His plan and purpose, not ours. Our sinful nature wants to follow the path of least resistance, leading to a lack of purpose, selfishness, and fruitlessness.
Taking Up the Cross Means a Radical Change in Life
What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? As Jesus trains His disciples, He tells them what a faithful follower is. Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
A good athlete spends hours training which is difficult, but this is the only way their body can be built up and transformed. Similarly, for a believer to mature spiritually means making a radical change. As a follower of Jesus, my way must give way to His and my plans for His plans.
Everything about being a follower of Jesus is countercultural to what the world tells us. The Christian life is an ongoing battle of denial of what we want for what God desires. Like a good parent, the Lord desires only the best for us and helps to accomplish that.
Taking Up the Cross Sets Us on a New Path
When I follow Jesus, I must change my direction and follow the Shepherd. When sheep follow their way, they wander away and can fall into great danger. As people, we are not any different. As we follow Jesus, He leads us into a life filled with purpose, contentment, and peace.
Peter was a fisherman, but God had more for him as a fisher of people. Paul was on the road to hell until Jesus intervened and called him to be an Apostle. Is the Lord calling you to take up your cross and follow Him? If so, this is a great privilege because the Lord wants to transform you in unimaginable ways.
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