Hey all, I know it’s been awhile since I have posted but crazy stuff has been going on in my life the last 4 months. This post is about something that has been tugging at my heart for a while now, and these past months I have been facing some difficult things so I am so glad I could share with you some of the thoughts I have about being called to come and die…for Jesus. I hope this serves as encouragement to you, and I would appreciate it if y’all could please keep me in your prayers, asking God to restore to me the joy of my salvation and just for comfort. Prayer is powerful and God is sovereign. Thanks for taking your time to read this. Love you all!
“Come and die”
Take up your cross. I had always heard this phrase growing up in the church, and read it in the Bible countless times. I suppose that there are things we read, hear, and write that we have become so accustom to, we kind of forget that things actually did have meaning. And it is sometimes only when we are faced with circumstances that bring to light these things, we can appreciate the meaning and take it to heart. (unless you’re like me and like to research things to find out) For example, we are always told that lying is bad.Okay, duh, that’s a given. But when we are put in a situation where we are being lied to, the gravity of the concept becomes alive. It becomes real. You now can appreciate the fact of someone who tells you the truth, because you know how bad it feels when someone does not keep their word. You don’t normalize the word “lie” because now it actually has meaning to you. I hope I didn’t butcher that illustration but if I did, let’s just move along here and pretend it makes sense.
Several times in the Bible we are told that if we want to follow Jesus, we must deny ourselves, set aside our selfish ambitions, and take up our cross. I can say from experience that it is so easy to disregard that. It is so easy to say that we are a Christian, but living that out? That takes activeness and not passivity. We have to completely disown ourselves, and refuse to acknowledge the flesh that so desperately tries to keep us living in our old ways. It is the sinful nature God wants us to separate from. And we must confess that there is no good in us, we can offer God nothing apart from Jesus. So after completely forsaking ourselves for Jesus, setting aside what we want to do and worldly pursuits, we must take up our cross. This is all part of discipleship.
I think there is some misconception when people hear the phrase, “Take up your cross”. I used to believe it meant that we are to bear our sufferings and carry the pain on our back to follow Jesus. I used to think that the cross meant that we are to put up with things, i.e. a nagging wife, an unbelieving husband, suffering from an incurable disease. A lot of people will say, “That’s my cross I have to carry” and by no means is that what Jesus meant when He spoke those words.
When Jesus was carrying that cross to be crucified, no one was thinking of the cross to be a symbolic burden to carry. During those times, a cross only meant one thing, death by the most painful and humiliating way possible. So basically when Jesus told us to take up our cross to follow Him, we must be willing to die. Be willing to pay any price for the sake of Christ. It’s willingness to endure persecution, shame, embarrassment, and rejection.
There’s a quote I love by Dietrich Bonhoeffer that puts it in simple form.
“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.“
I love it!
This call is to absolute surrender. We must be willing to die for Christ’s sake, and also die to ourselves.
I know it is kind of hard to put this into perspective living in a country where we have freedom to worship, but I am pleading with you to meditate on the words of the Lord.
Timothy Keller said it best.
“The Gospel must be used to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
Don’t just half-heartedly say you follow God. We must remember that Christ gave himself, as ransom for all, so that we could know Him. He loved us so much, with a relentless, unconditional, unfailing love. It makes it so much more real to me, the love of God and the sacrifices He wants us to make when we choose to follow Him. It is not something we can be half way in about. We have to remember and take it seriously that God wants all of us. All of our surrender. All of ourselves. There are many people who want to follow Jesus but at no cost, and God does not give us that option. He promises that there will be pain, there will be suffering. The risks will be high, it will be hard. But He also promises a joy that nothing else can compare to, and that nobody or nothing on this earth can take away. So even though we suffer, we can praise God because it is not in vain. It’s all part of the sanctification process, God using trials to deepen our faith and make us holy. For us to become holy, we must give up our lives, willingly for Jesus.
Following Jesus has been the best decision of my life, and even though He promises pain, I will rejoice because Jesus gives me a joy that is endless. I can’t even begin to descibe the joy I have because of Christ.
He died for us, and taking up our cross for Him, is a matchless reward. If you wouldn’t die for Christ, are you really living for Him?
“He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” – Mark 8:34-35