Read: Luke 9:23-27
I really have a hard time appreciating the gravity of this assertion:
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
In our modern society we don’t require criminals to bear the instrument of death upon which they will be publicly humiliated, tortured, and ultimately killed. We’re much too civilized for that! For those hearing this command for the first time, this imagery was real. It was visceral. When Jesus spoke these words, I imagine He paused and looked deeply into the eyes of those who were listening to make sure they understood.
Bonhoeffer refers to this as “costly grace,” not some fake, cheap gospel that doesn’t require anything of us. Proclaiming Jesus as Lord means we are marked. In our politically correct world, the concept is watered down, but today I wonder if I will do what the song Devotion reminds me to do:
I will take up my cross and follow Lord where you lead me and I will take up my cross and follow wherever You go. Hillsong United: Devotion, 2007
Seriously, I can’t listen to this song without tearing up. Self-doubt wells up inside me as I look around at the comfort in which I live. Have I really denied myself for sake of the One who gave His life for all? Sure, I know Satan loves it when I doubt myself, when I waste time aimlessly wondering about my salvation, I get that, but that’s where you come in. The fellowship of believers we refer to as church.
The reason we are not a group of individual islands is obvious: divided we have no chance. That’s how the wolf attacks the flock. He picks off one, separates him from the herd, and devours his prey. However, together, united by Christ, we are unstoppable. We become the very force that will change the world. When like-minded, devoted followers of Christ team up, the Spirit moves mountains, lives are changed for eternity. I love to sing this part over and over again:
the sinners seek devotion, lost become chosen, and I fall to my knees.Hillsong United: Devotion, 2007
I hope you hear your call to ministry quite clearly this morning. Honestly, I hope that doesn’t mean working in a church building; rather, I hope you’re called to work around people that don’t think about Jesus at all! That’s where we have the best chance at building relationships with those who need to hear about the Savior who gave His life, who literally took up His cross for the world.