Can you reduce the Christian life to three words? Not entirely, but we can come close. Jesus said that anyone who wants to follow him must take his cross (Matthew 10:38). A cross was a horrible tool of execution used by the Roman Empire for the most heinous of criminals. Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross, but not before he spoke those words. Although following Jesus leads to martyrdom for many, taking one’s cross is a way of living in this age.
The Apostle Paul wrote that believers should offer their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1). Followers of Jesus are willing to make costly personal sacrifices in order to advance the Kingdom of God. Jesus gave himself in order to save God’s people from sin. Jesus’ followers make sacrifices that demonstrate the love of Christ by benefiting people who are undeserving, the essence of grace.
Jesus said take your cross. His statement is very personal. Each follower of Jesus has a calling, a purpose that contributes to the big picture of God’s Kingdom. The New Testament tells us that we were saved by God in order to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). The good deeds mentioned here are not just random acts of kindness. Christians are called and equipped by God to do things that make a difference in eternity.
Finally, the word take is a reminder that Jesus is giving his listeners a choice. Jesus told the so-called Rich Young Ruler to sell all that he had and become a disciple. The man was overwhelmed and unwilling. He walked away. Jesus let him. Jesus does not force anyone to make the sacrifice necessary to be a follower. But for those who make the choice, Jesus promises great reward. Take up your cross and follow Jesus.
May Jesus Christ always be our greatest passion,
Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR