Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity]. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?Matthew 16:24-26 AMP
We are meeting at the crossroads. Everyone of us. Everyday. When our life intersects with another’s, our paths cross.
For a moment in time, as we stand face to face, or maybe side by side, we are together at this point in history.
What direction are you going? Are we heading the same way? I’m choosing the way of the Cross. It’s the narrow path that few find. It’s not well marked. It’s a smooth foot path hidden among the weeds. Maybe wide enough for two to walk side by side but that’s it.
It crosses over the wide road that leads to destruction. That one is paved and has multiple lanes. It’s like an 8 laned highway, every lane heading due south, down a steep grade. Even if you tried to hit the brakes, your chances of slowing down and stopping are slim to none. Your only chance is to take an exit and head another direction.
We’re at the crossroads.
A point of decision.
Will we continue mindlessly down the road that leads to destruction? Or will we willfully choose something different? It takes intention and effort, everyday, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to shoulder the burden of our cross and keep on following Jesus.
What does it mean to carry our cross?
The cross is an instrument of torture and death. To carry your cross is to carry the very thing that will be used to put an end to your life in the flesh. It is the ultimate act of submission and obedience to a will other than your own.
Did Jesus want to be crucified? No. He prayed that, if it were possible, that cup of suffering would not be His to drink. Yet, at the end of the day, He prayed not my will be done, but Thine. He chose to submit to the will of His Father in Heaven. He obeyed so that His will was carried out on Earth. He suffered and died as an act of obedience.
Christ Jesus is our example of living life by faith and not by sight. Carrying your cross, you know you’re choosing to put an end to a life lived for your own pleasure and comfort. You’re choosing to put your faith in God’s plan even though it looks like today’s the day you’re going to die.
You don’t choose when you die. You don’t choose who is going to hammer the nails into your hands and feet. You do get to choose, again, as you’re being put to death if you’ll obey God and say, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”
Daily life is a death by a thousand cuts. People sin against us daily. Sometimes intentionally out of malice. Sometimes unintentionally, simply out of ignorance or being too busy to recognize and treat you like the living soul that you are. We’re all guilty. We all sin everyday. We all fall short of the glory of God.
God’s glory is on display when we love other people unselfishly, without ulterior motives. God’s glory shines when we humble ourselves and serve others sacrificially. God’s glory abides when our hearts are pure, our faith is sincere and our consciences are clear.
Be the love of God in this world. Don’t become stained by worldly living. Wash your robes in the blood of Jesus and be clothed in Christ. Let everything you do be motivated by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Love, the Spirit of Christ crucified. He left this world so that the Spirit of God would be poured out on all flesh, baptizing us in His Spirit.
Everyday is an opportunity. Everyone you encounter is on a journey. Take a moment. Forget your agenda and ask them, how are you? Listen sincerely. Then, see where the Holy Spirit takes the conversation.
God is asking you now, how are you? Are you weary? Are you tired of going it alone? Are you exhausted from toughing it out? Have you had enough of your rebellion and disobedience? Has your sin failed to satisfy you yet again? Is it becoming clear that God is your only hope for a life well lived?
Then become like a child. Live in the moment. Forget your past. Have no clue what tomorrow holds. Trust that your Father in Heaven loves you and cares for you. Believe that He is all-powerful, owns everything and can beat up the father of your enemies.
Are you ready to begin again? Are you ready to be clean? Are you ready to follow Jesus, today?
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors [letting go of both the wrong and the resentment]. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [ For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. ] ’”Matthew 6:9-13 AMP