Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23
With this phrase, Jesus Christ gave a clear picture and challenging description of the christian life. He begins by letting us know that this expectation wasn’t for everyone. It is for those who have decided to follow Him. We all are familiar with Jesus’ journey to Calvary and how He carried his cross. That story suggests to us that the cross is very heavy and wasn’t convenient to combine with anything else. So, for Jesus to carry His cross, He had to lay down everything else.
Being a follower of Jesus means that we put aside our selfish desires, carrying our cross and following Him. The cross Jesus is referring to isn’t just the problems we have here on earth. It could be a part of it. However, i believe that Jesus meant something bigger than that.
Anyone who carried a cross in Jesus’ days was carrying it to a place of death. So, when we are told to carry our cross, it is for us to allow our fleshy desires die. We are laying down our will for His. We are offering ourselves as sacrifices unto Him. We are honoring Him word and commands over ours. We are giving Him the chance to lead and pledging to follow Him wherever He takes us.
There are some in today’s world who claim to be carrying their cross, but when we look at what they believe in, we can say that they aren’t actually following Jesus. It’s one thing to pick up our cross and it’s another thing to follow Jesus. And following Him daily. Not just when we feel like. Everyday. In good days and bad days. When we have an audience who is willing to listen and when we are told not to mention His name. When we feel like He is near and when we feel like He is far away. When we are in the mountain and testifying and when we are in the valley wondering how we got there. When we are happy and when we are sad. Daily. Everyday. Every single day.
Look i know we have heard these words before. Haven’t we? I think one of the challenges of being in church for long is the temptation for scripture to become so familiar that we lose the message hidden in them. I don’t know about you but this stuff is hard. I mean, the everyday bit. I don’t mind being good in certain days. Hey i’m not talking about denying my faith here or turning my back on Jesus. Nope. I’m just referring to the part where i have to listen and obey Him and not doing thing my way sometimes.
I have been thinking of this topic for some days now and today i tried using it as a benchmark to see how i’m doing. You know on a scale of 1 to 10 kinda thing. I scored myself low. Probably i won’t be that low if i didn’t have to do it everyday. So i decided to take my chat to God. I love being honest with God and my chats with Him are unscripted. In my chat which to be honest was one way because i was doing all of the talking, i told Him how i was trying and how some days were better than others and blah blah.
I carried on with my day as normal. At some point the thought faded as my mind was clouded with the day’s activities.
This evening i was on social media, scrolling through my phone when i saw a post. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that God strategically placed this on my screen as a gentle reminder that He isn’t looking for perfection. He is looking for a contrite and a willing heart. The post was shared by Julian C Adams and it reads;
“Picking up your cross and following Jesus is picking up promise and hope filled expectation of resurrection, because Jesus is no longer on that cross.“
This really spoke deep to me because it served as a reminder that i wasn’t short-changed when i laid down my desires for His. Even though my cross is rusty, it keeps me hopeful of what is ahead. It reminds me that because Jesus no longer carries that cross, there will come a day when i will no longer need to carry mine too. It reminded me of eternity with Him. Knowing that God had an end date to this ‘carrying my cross’ task, and knowing that what He has in store for me in exchange made me hopeful.
So carrying my cross and following Jesus daily didn’t look like an unfair task after-all. It was just me doing the needful with His help so i can spend eternity with Him. Going forward i have chosen to focus on what i will gain instead of what i am giving up. What a worthy cause!
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23