The call to follow Jesus is both collective by its universality and individual by its uniqueness. Are we picking up the cross and choosing to follow?
// "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.' " -Matthew 16:24 //
The entire point of us being here is to fellowship with God, and more specifically to enter right relationship with Him so we can fellowship not just now but for eternity.
Given the reality of sin, that means following Jesus as a disciple because He is the only way to God.
But what does it mean to follow Jesus as a disciple? Jesus makes it explicitly clear in Matthew 16:24:
- Deny self
- Take up your cross
- Follow Him
To deny self comes from the Greek word aparneomai, or to forget your own interests. So often I struggle with what I think conflicting with God's eternal Truth, and I want to hold onto my own interests, or theology. It's comfortable. It's accepted by the world.
But ultimately, who do I want to be accepted by?
Do I want Jesus to say 'I never knew you.' or 'well done, my good and faithful servant.'
Denying self is a collective call - one that we all need to do. We need to let go of our own thoughts, wisdom, theology, comfort, and trade it out for Jesus.
Take up your cross
What stands out to me when I read this is taking up your cross. That's possessive. Jesus didn't say His cross, but your cross for you, my cross for me.
Jesus knows that His followers will continue to span time until He returns, span many different cultures and norms. Our crosses look different.
Taking up our cross looks like Him taking up His own cross - it was His ultimate work on this earth. Ours won't be as powerful as His, of course, but once we put aside our self, we take on an identity in Him by replacing self, and that equips us to take up our own cross. At the time He said this, the disciples didn't fully get His pending death coming through the cross, but in hindsight we can see that this is an collective call with individual application.
What is your cross? What is He calling you and equipping you to do for Him with your life?
Walk it out. Once we die to self, choose to take up our cross, we need to continuously, continuously, continuously follow Him through life. This isn't a one time, 1 day per week commitment.
This is a moment by moment commitment to courageously follow.
And this is a show of beauty - our God desires to walk with us, guide us, never leave nor forsake us. He sent us the gift of the Holy Spirit to know His will for our lives. the Bible may not share specifically what to do in every situation of your life, but it's wisdom is a foundation and the Holy Spirit applies it to our unique situations, day in and day out.
Where are you? Are you still needing to die to self? Pick up your cross? Choosing to follow Him daily?