Mark 8:34 “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Death and dying.
The Bible seems to be filled with accounts of many who have lost their life. Others who had their lives taken. But then we come to the New Testament and read from lips of the Savior – ‘…take up his cross, and follow me.‘
Death has such finality to it. Yet, in the Word of God, we are told that it is just a passage to something so much better!
The hope of the Christian is Heaven and life eternal there with God. We fear it because we are ignorant of just what is there and more importantly, Who is there.
We all have experienced loved ones with whom we’ve had an unexpected distance and time between us, and though the wait seemed excruciatingly long, it culminated in a reunion of such joyous proportion!
It was joyous because of the object. With Christ, the more I know Him, the greater, the more joyous, and absolutely wondrous that meeting will be when my eyes close in death and open in glory!
But the verses today speak of another death – death to self; death to the flesh; death to my wants, will and desires. We fear this more because of what is to replace it.
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Simply, God desires to live His life through me. That can only take place when I am out of the way; dead, if you will; to anything that would contradict God’s movement and direction in my life.
Some may balk at the methodology, or the imagery that God uses to describe what it is He desires us to do. The crucifixion was and is one of the most tortuous and horrific ways to die. The cross, to the saved child of God, is an emblem of the price that was paid for our sins. It represents a yielding to the sentence proclaimed to the one carrying it. It shows submission to the will of someone far more powerful.
Hebrews 12:1-2 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
It is in the enduring that we can see the true glory of taking up that cross. It is Christ living in me for those around me. I do not have the love I need in myself to do what God asks of me. I do not possess the wisdom, the longsuffering, the grace or the mercy. But praise be to God, He possesses all these and more!
He can be that through me, to them, if I but yield. That first step – taking up our cross – is a decision for everyone of us to make. It is not a select few, called out ones who possess greater character, wisdom and strength above all those around them – No, God uses the weak, the infirm, the simple; those whose submission to His will, will give Him the glory in the sweet yielding to Him.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29 “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.”
Let us take up our cross today and give God the glory He truly deserves!