This morning, one of the pastors of my home church preached about taking up your cross (Matthew 16). He talked about putting Jesus first, above all else: “It costs nothing to be saved, but it costs everything to follow”. Then, he told the congregation about something he did personally for the last month to help him really take this passage to heart.
For the past month, he carried around a giant staff everywhere he went– no exceptions. It went with him to church each Sunday, to the grocery store, around the house, out to dinner with friends, and everywhere in between. At first, it was awkward and easy to forget about; soon he was a bit embarrassed by it; and eventually, he was proud of it. There were times he would hangout with non-Christian friends and found himself leaving it in the car, only to be overwhelmed with guilt as he retraced his steps to retrieve it.
This example really hit home for me. I have lived most of my life in a Christian community and I’m very thankful for it, but it has caused me to live very comfortably in my faith. After hearing this sermon, I asked myself what it would look like if I took this command seriously– if I consciously and unashamedly took up my cross. Here’s what I came up with:
1) My desires would be synonymous with those of my creator. If I made a conscious effort to take up my cross and sacrifice for Jesus everyday, I would learn more about Him, and love Him more as a result. As I grew to love Him more, my life would look more and more like His.
2) My relationships with people would change. I might not have as many friendships, but those I did have would be quality ones. If I made a conscious effort to take up my cross and sacrifice for Jesus everyday, I would have a sacrificial love for those around me. I would not be in a relationship with anyone for what I hoped to gain from it.
3) How I view myself would change. When Jesus died on the cross, He did so because it was the will of the Father who saw His children as worth dying for. If I made a conscious effort to take up my cross and sacrifice for Jesus everyday, I would begin to understand a glimpse of the sacrificial love the Father has for me– I would never ever doubt that I’m worth it (though I don’t deserve it, I’m worth it).
I encourage you to find some sort of physical reminder to help you remind yourself to take up your cross daily.