“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
After announcing the cross in his future, Jesus says self-denial and cross-bearing are part of the life asked of anyone who follows him. Disciples die to their desires and give up pretending to be in charge. Jesus asked his followers to be ready to give up possessions, positions, and even family ties if following him required it.
Today Christian people in many places suffer because they believe in Jesus and follow him. Antagonism to their faith may lead to outright persecution. The Christians whose lives are made uncomfortable or dangerous for Jesus’ sake number hundreds of millions!
Crosses are burdens freely chosen for Christ’s sake. A friend in our mission decided with her husband to bear a child that they knew would have a difficult life if he survived birth. With prayer and support, they chose the hard road.
My cross may be to take on the hurts of others, to feel sorrow for someone else’s plight. A family who prays for years for the salvation of an unbelieving family member bears a cross. So do we when we help neighbors in poverty, or help to raise others’ children. Churches that grow through evangelism have many members whose hearts ache for the hurts and needs of others. But, as Jesus says, “Whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Lord Jesus, I belong to you. Deep down I know there are difficult things you are asking me to do. Help me to pick up my cross. In your name I pray. Amen.
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