Matthew 16:24 (NKJV) Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
To pick up something requires action. Picking up something that is heavy, rough, awkward and bulky requires decisive action.
Talking about it won’t do. Listening to others tell how they did it, won’t suffice. Thinking that the idea sounds really good and you agree with it, is worthless if it does not result in action.
- James 1:22 (NKJV) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
- Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
- 1 Th 1:6 (NKJV) And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.
Action. Cross-carrying is not a spectator sport.
“Among the plastic saints of our times, Jesus has to do all the dying, and all we want to hear is another sermon about his dying.” A.W. Tozer
(21st century translation: the casual, uncommitted Christians of our time make Jesus do all the cross-carrying; we are satisfied with just hearing another good sermon about it.)
Ouch. (21st century translation: Ouch)
The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it. We must get back to the preaching of the cross as the central message of Christianity. A.W. Tozer
(21st century translation: the Cross of the Bible takes no prisoners and calls for commitment and sacrifice; it condemns and convicts the sinner; it makes us realize that we have no power in ourselves. The modern cross of today’s church is entertaining, we “feel” good when we hear about it; it encourages a life of living for yourself. We must return to the power and conviction of the Biblical Cross.)
Ouch. Really ouch.
God is looking for people of action. Doers. Those who are loyal and responsive.
2 Chron 16:9 (NKJV) For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.
He wants people who will get in the game, get dirty; bleed, sweat and sacrifice. It is but a small price to pay in comparison to our eternal reward so take heart that God will give you everything you need to carry your cross!
- 2 Cor 4:17 (NKJV) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
- 2 Pet 1:3 (NKJV)…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…
- Phil 4:13 (NKJV) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
When the Lord looks back does He see you following Him bearing your cross? Or have you fallen back in the distance, cross on the ground, hands empty and busy with something else?
Matthew 10:38-39 (NKJV) And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
Is taking up your cross still just talk? Do you watch others instead of participating? Are you an armchair quarterback? A part-timer, a second-stringer, a “wannabe”? Do you have great ears and baby-soft hands? Are these just words or marching orders?
Lord, make this the last time I hear about taking up a cross without actually doing it. Give me courage to bend down and grab it. Give me strength to heave it on to my shoulders and take the first step. Give me wisdom to understand the reasons why I must do it, and do it now. Amen.