Luke 9:23 (NLT) Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

Jesus said we should live day by day. He didn’t just die so we would do religious things on a Sunday. He died to give us new life. Every day.

To deny ourselves means we give up things for Christ. It's also accepting persecution for having Jesus in our lives. It's a shock when we face opposition to our stand for Him, but He warned us this was part of following Him.

The glory of any life is not the accomplishments but the sacrifice. Jesus' life is defined by the sacrifice He made on the cross. He calls us to do the same every day. This 'cross' doesn't just 'fall' on us. We have to actually pick it up. This is a path to growth. Babies begin life depending on their parents, but they are expected to grow and learn to do things for themselves until they too, have to deny themselves and care for their children.

People don’t always like Jesus and when you have Jesus written all over your life, they won’t always like you. Mark 10:28-30 promises that sacrifices for God will be met with an abundance but also, persecutions. Balancing those two is a never ending exercise. Consider when Joseph’s father made him the many-coloured coat. Joseph wore it but it brought persecution from his brothers. He considered pleasing his father more important than pleasing his brothers.

Following Jesus will cost you something; you can not follow Him without self denial. The thing that we struggle to 'deny' is different for each person. God doesn’t just call us to give up the things that are bad for us but also, things that benefit us. Our circumstances are no indication of what we are struggling with because rich or poor, we all struggle with our human condition.

Paul shares his struggles in Romans 7:15-25, his big problem is, “I”. In Romans 6:6 Paul shows us the solution: the death of who we were before Christ. When we pick up our cross, we are putting to death our old selves so that we may live in Christ - you can’t have the caterpillar and the butterfly at the same time.

God wants us to live in victory, above our unresolved circumstances. The Christian life is not pain-free but it can be joyful. Our old self dies a little each day (1 Corinthians 15:31), we see the purpose of the process (2 Corinthians 4:10-11) which is more of Jesus manifested in us. Our ego does not enjoy decreasing but when we make the decision to accept this, Jesus sets us free (Galatians 2:20).

See you in church!

Phil PringleComment