Luke 14: 26-27
How much do you love Jesus? What have you given up for Him? Have you left everything for Him, or is He an add-on to your life, with you still at the steering wheel?
Jesus is quite clear in His word about what He's looking for:
'"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."' Matthew 14: 26-27
When we make Jesus Lord of our lives, He is to take first place above everyone and everything else. It's a complete life change for us, exchanging the old for the new, being born again.
For those of us who live in the ease of the West in places like the UK and US, we can easily stay lost even as Christians; lost in entertainment and materialism and many other things. Unfortunately the condition of all of our fallen hearts means that we are more pre-disposed to sin than to follow Jesus (Romans 7:22-24).
However, when we invite Jesus into our lives to become Lord, He then begins a life-long process of truly becoming Lord in the whole of our lives. God wants us conformed to the image of Jesus; that is discipleship (Romans 8:29). To be conformed means to make us similar to Him and to help us become obedient in actions and behaviour with His accepted standards.
One of the tools God uses in this process of conformity or discipleship is the cross. The cross is a symbol of suffering, one that Jesus endured and one that we too must choose to pick up if we are to follow Jesus. We cannot follow Him without carrying it. We simply wouldn't be going where He is going.
We cannot co-exist with our flesh and sin, it has to be crucified and God will always lead us in such a way, that to follow Him requires we sacrifice and suffer and will need to walk in humility, faith and courage etc. That's the cross. As we choose Him and die to ourselves we find Him and He resurrects us into the supernatural realm and relationship with Himself.
Jesus was made perfect through His suffering (Hebrews 2:10) and through our suffering as we are obedient to God through it, we too become perfected in His ways Romans 5:3, Romans 8:17.
'Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.' 1 Peter 4:12-14
I still struggle with suffering; I still wrestle against my cross. I don't like the feel of it; I dislike the pain and discomfort and occasionally it is even agony. It's not nice to be rejected by people because of your faith, it's not nice to feel different, it's not pleasant being obedient in the face of fear. My mind and flesh still think, 'this can't be right, surely God doesn't want me to suffer surely something is wrong here'. My mind and flesh are always surprised at the cross.
I do pick up my cross though! For the first 4 years of my faith I didn't, I wasn't obedient to anything God said. For 11 years now I have followed Him and known fellowship with Him through His and my sufferings and I have known Him transform me, show Himself to me and bring me into His supernatural realm. I have found my life as I have lost it, following Him.
If you have asked Jesus into your life, He will want you to be a disciple. Are you standing looking at your cross, thinking, 'I don't want this, I can't endure this, I want what I want'? Or are you choosing despite how you feel, to pick up and embrace your cross and follow Jesus?
My prayer is that you will pick up your cross, that you might know His fellowship and that you may truly find your life in Him.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
View all Life Files by Heather Bellamy