Take Up Your Cross

One of the most dangerous invitations in the English language is “Follow me.” Why is that? In one sense, the usefulness of such an invitation is dependent upon the character or training of the person making it. The phrase “Follow Me” appears 23x in the New Testament. With one exception, every time the invitation comes forth it is from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ. The invitation of the Lord is an inherent call to make every other allegiance secondary to His. The call of Christ is a call to ultimately commit oneself wholly unto Him.

In the days of the New Testament, this summons was partly physical, but also spiritual. When the Lord said, “Follow Me” he invited people to do more than take a walk with Him. His invitation meant, “Follow my teachings. Follow the ways of life I am showing you.” In sum, the invitation of Christ has always included a call to die to our own will, desires, and plans in order to take up His cross.

A Christian is not free to live as they see fit, but only as God has called them to. Many people who call themselves “Christians” have forgotten this most basic point. Such a call may be seen as extreme by many who are not Christian. But our Lord said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 ESV)

For the most part, the present expression of Western civilization portrays itself in all the garb of chronological snobbery and presumption. If it were codified into a creed, its antichristian sentiments would burst in this manner: “Let your heart guide you. Do what seems right to you. Give yourself to your passions.” Self-affirmation in all of its forms underlies the very sub-structures of the present world; at least in the West. The supposed claim for the divinization of the self has ironically come at the cost of one’s soul.

The call of Christ, however, has something altogether different to say. Jesus’ words come across as a most offensive odor to such a world. Why is that? Because for every morsel of supposed sophistication in our supposedly pluralistic society no place is made for the supremacy of Christ over all things.

It is interesting to consider that both Christ and this present world extend the same invitation: Follow me. The veil of religious language comes up for both. The cry for self-denial in Christ is exchanged for self-empowerment in the other. The cry for our identification with Christ on the cross, is instead exchanged for a “seat at the table” or a place of acceptance and popularity. In short, we find two radically different systems at work coming together under the same phrase: Follow Me. However, in Christ there is mercy, hope, and peace with God. With the other is the unceasing call for outrage, an ever-shifting ethical stance, and the false cry that this life is all that there is.

What will you do? Obviously, you can choose to do nothing. Apathy has often been a powerful tool of the enemy. Self-imposed spirituality seems good to some, but any spirituality apart from the Holy Spirit as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures, is not worthy following, and inevitably will consume you. So again we are left with the question: What will you do?
The call of Christ is freely offered to everyone, but following Christ will cost you everything. The comfortable “Christianity” that we have known for too long is evaporating, which is for our benefit. Committing yourself to Christ will cost you something. It may cost you your reputation, it may cost you your job, perhaps even your family someday. But the call to follow Christ has always been a summons to die. Christ did not come to simply be an appendage to your already decent life, but to raise you from the dead and defang the basilisk of Death and Self-worship, and show us what it means to be truly human.

So what will you do? I pray that you would hear the voice of our King. I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ who has always existed in perfect love and fellowship with the Father and the Spirit would become most precious in your eyes. I pray as well, that the call to take up your cross would be sweet. For we were made for more than this momentary bliss, but for the “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” (2 Cor. 4:17 ESV) Christ has summed you by saying, “Follow Me.”

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