Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me
“When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals-one on His right, the other on His left.”
-Luke 23:33-

A fundamental flaw in our thinking is the illusion that God has done everything and we-doing nothing-can become the recipients of His grace and goodness. “Jesus paid it all,” goes the old song, and therefore, we con-sider it our blessing to be included in the family of God.

This attitude has turned Christianity into a marketable lifestyle that costs nothing and demands little if any-thing in return. In the process we have beautified the life of Jesus, ignored His death, and failed to understand the power of His Resurrection.

Christ understood His mission clearly. He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). In his parables He talked about the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son. His mission was to do something about humanity’s lostness, the source of our estrangement from God. But Jesus never suggested that He was paying the price so that we should all have a totally free ride.

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 23:33). The illusion of a free ride disappeared with the left-overs of the loaves and fishes. When Jesus spoke so bluntly, it was no wonder that some quietly slipped towards the edges of the crowd and quit. The cost of Discipleship was too high; the demands were too great. The disciples understood the impact of Jesus’ talk about taking up a cross because they had seen its visible reality. For most of us a cross of any sort seems somewhat costly. But that was exactly what Christ had in mind.

In today’s world, what does it mean to “take up a cross”? Obviously, it can’t be taken literally. We don’t crucify people outside the city gates anymore. But the significance hasn’t changed. Taking up your cross is an act of self-negation, a service to someone, a commitment with a personal cost, making ours a better world.

Those who have made this commitment find themselves taking care of the elderly, feeding the homeless, housing the kids who sleep on the streets. It can mean as many different things as there are situations but taking up your cross signifies you have yielded control of your life to Jesus, who will be your strength. The power of the Cross transforms lives, churches, and society as well. No wonder Paul could glory in the Cross and boast that through this he had gained power over the world.

As we continue your Lenten Journey, may God help you to leave your burdens at His feet, and take up your cross and follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

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