Taking up your cross
It's simple and impossible and life-giving
Calling the crowd along with his disciples, [Jesus] said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34 CSB)
In a pivotal moment in Jesus’ ministry, He defines what it means to be His follower: it is someone who denies themselves and takes up their cross.
What does this look like?
Loving as Jesus loved.
Think about what Jesus did on that brutal instrument of death.
In love, He didn’t seek to save His one life. In a very real, physical sense, He lost it. Jesus really died on the cross. He really was buried until the third day.
And He gained His life back as a result.
Are you willing to follow Him in that? It’s going to take denying yourself and intentionally laying down your life for others, spending your own life for other people’s happiness, joy, and fulfillment. It’s going to take forgiving people, especially when they don’t deserve it. It will mean loving the unlovable and those who don’t affirm you or bring you happiness and pleasure.
That’s our calling.
And the only way to truly love like that is to first experience the love of Jesus yourself. To grapple with what He did for you on the cross. The way He denied Himself for you when you didn’t deserve it.
When you experience that kind of love, you will want others to experience it with you.
It will cost you, and of course, that’s the point.
But you know what you will gain? You will gain what you were made for and what you long for: life.
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