“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'” – Luke 9:23
Many of us, while reading this, think of the “cross” as some burden that we have to carry (i.e. stressful jobs, maintaining relationships, physical illness, etc). However, this is not the interpretation that Jesus had in mind when he said it. It means so much more than that.
When Jesus carried his cross to be crucified, no one was thinking about the symbolic nature of the burdens human beings had to carry. To people in the first-century the cross meant death by the most painful and humiliating way that human beings could think of. The Romans forced convicted criminals to carry their own execution device while facing ridicule on the way to their death.
So, taking up a cross is no self-pitying manner of mustering up the strength to make it through with the burdens of life on your back; taking up a cross entails being stripped down and being willing to die in order to follow Christ.
Now here, in the United States of America, we have the privilege of freedom of religion so thinking to the extreme of having to die for our faith is hard (although there are still places in the world where this extreme is a reality). So maybe, if your physical life isn’t being threatened, take a step down and ask yourself if you are willing to sacrifice your social life for your faith.
Am I willing to look like a fool for Jesus?
Well, let me tell you, it won’t happen overnight, and it won’t be easy. But a believer in Christ should certainly be willing. This has been added to my daily prayer list: Lord, make me a fool if it means I’m following you.
And of course, as most things to do with faith, it’s easier said than done. It reminded me of something a pastor from my church said, “if you chose Christianity as a hobby, you picked the wrong hobby”. It’s not just something to put on your resume, it’s a lifestyle (and a challenging one). But as long as you pick up your cross daily and follow him, God will give you the strength to handle everything that’s thrown at you.