As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Luke 9:57-58
Jesus: the Ultimate Example
Following Jesus comes at a cost. It is not convenient. It will certainly cause us to know the meaning of sacrifice. Jesus knew what it meant to travel away from home, to miss out on events like family members’ birthdays or deaths, and to sleep in uncomfortable conditions–all for the sake of spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom. Although not all of us may be called to an itinerant lifestyle like Jesus, our Savior’s example should seriously push us to ask the question: “What are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel?”
All of us who call ourselves Christians have a cross to carry and a pattern to follow. This pattern corresponds to Jesus’ challenge for His disciples: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matt.16:24).
Take up their cross. There is no escaping this instrument of death when it comes to being a disciple of Jesus. No shortcut, either, if we’re serious with our walk in the Lord.
Choosing to follow Jesus will make us know a “death to self” in an intimate manner. We may not end up literally crucified on a cross, but the cross we carry will still demand some sort of death in us— such as death to our stubborn wills. Or death to selfishness. Death to bad habits. Death to certain dreams. Death to ambition. We realize that following Jesus is not just a destination, but a process of transformation where our character and our choices become more like His.
In modern history, we can see examples of this cost of discipleship in the lives of people like Jim Elliot, George Mueller, Corrie Ten Boom, Brother Andrew, and the like. Not all of them were martyred like Jim Elliot, but they all had a specific calling in life that came with specific deaths. Imagine what it meant to George Mueller who gave up all he had so that orphans may be cared for. Imagine Corrie Ten Boom having had to die to self-preservation as she took in Jews during the holocaust. Imagine Brother Andrew sacrificing security as he crossed communist borders to deliver Bibles. These modern-day heroes are no different from the heroes of the faith in the Bible. Each one knew there was a cost in following God.
There are certainly different crosses—different deaths– and each one of these “cross carriers,” whether modern day hero or hero from the Bible–needed the grace of God.
We need the grace of God, too.
I believe lukewarmness has invaded the Church because a good number of Christians do not know what it means to deny themselves and take up their cross. We’ve fallen too much in love with comfort; too much in love with convenience. We don’t guard our hunger for Christ anymore. We forget that the best kind of future is one where we passionately run after Him—even if it means countless deaths.
I am comforted by Paul’s words when it comes to the cost of following Jesus: “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Phil. 3:10
Knowing the cross will mean knowing suffering, but it will also mean knowing Jesus more and His resurrection power. It is certainly an invitation for MORE in this life.
Are we brave enough to carry our cross?
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26
The choice is ours.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.