It wasn’t enough for me to just be “saved.” No. I wanted to delve deeper into this God who delivered me from death. I was not content with just tucking my ticket into heaven in my back pocket and living my life any ole way I pleased. In short, I wanted to be a disciple. And there is a difference between being saved and being a true follower of Jesus.
Followers must carry a cross.
Followers—not living by their own license, but by Christ’s—follow no matter what the cost. And the cost is carrying a cross.
Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
Now, crosses, as we all know, involve suffering of some sort. It is willingly sacrificing our wants and desires for the wants and desires of our Higher Power—God. And so, God gives us a cross to bear that will conform us to the image of His Son. But don’t worry—He will never appoint to us a cross we cannot bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Here’s an illustration I heard that might help: A certain man was caught up to heaven, where he promptly told Jesus that the cross Christ had committed him to carry was way too heavy. So, Jesus took the man to a room full of crosses and told him to place his cross with the rest of them. After that, the two of them went for a walk and chatted awhile. Then they went back to the cross room, where Jesus told the man to pick a cross he thought he could put up with. The man thought all of crosses looked too heavy. But after he had surveyed the room for several seconds, his eyes lit on one he believed he could bear the burden of. Christ chuckled. “Why are you laughing, LORD?” the man asked. And Jesus said, “Because that is the same cross you brought in with you, silly!”
The point? if we want to be disciples, we must carry our crosses without complaining. For God knows how much weight we can bear. He will never load us down. And He provides supernatural provision when he calls us to carry a cross (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Yes, Christ is looking for disciples like you and me, my dearest friends. Disciples who will dare to set aside their own desires, pick up their crosses, and follow Him. That is, those who will do His work, His way, in His strength, and in His timing. After all, if we want to be disciples—and not just be merely saved—it means we have the deepest desire to “…know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” (Philippians 3:10).
All of which involves carrying a cross!
And crosses vary, according to individuals’ needs, experiences, personalities, and shortcomings. For instance, that addict will be called to stop popping pills, lapping liquor, steeping him or her self in sex, and carry a lifelong cross because by nature they are addicts. Or that man or woman may be called to be missionaries, missionaries who may even be martyred, missionaries who must leave behind friends and family and all that is familiar to them. Or our cross can involve physical pain, loneliness, heartache. Or a cross will involve the loss of friendships, rejection, and persecution when our personalities change from the process of carrying our crosses and becoming more like Christ. Crosses can even be the means by which God weeds the idols from our lives, as in when we put loved ones ahead of our devotion to the LORD.
Throughout all this, we must praise and appreciate the God who has given us these crosses to carry. If we really desire to be true disciples of Jesus and to make our lives count for the kingdom in a way they cannot count when we live as carnal Christians or as nominal Christians, we will be called to carry a cross.
So, although the crosses Christ has commissioned us to carry may seem cumbersome at times, we know that Christ is carrying us as we carry those old rugged crosses to our eternal destinies, where we will be richly rewarded with “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your LORD” (Matthew 25:21).
So, let’s not get cross at the cost of the cross Christ has called us to carry. For in the end it will have been worth every struggling and sorrowful effort. As you carry your cross—you can count on it!All Scriptural references taken from the NKJV Bible, 1985