24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew: 16:24-26 ESV)
Are you going after Christ? Are you seeking to follow and learn of Him? Are you seeking to trust in Him and love Him with all that is within you?
Then He would have us deny ourselves and lose our lives. He would have us forsake all that we knew before, to no longer be conformed to our world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. He teaches us shackle-breaking truth that forces old things to pass away and all things to become new. But we must abide in it. We must embrace it. We must walk in it.
We will not walk in it if we are mindful of the things of man. We will not embrace it if we are seeking to save our lives. We will not abide in it if we do not take up our cross. Why? Because the Spirit is contrary to the flesh. And the flesh is contrary to the Spirit. We cannot serve two masters. Two cannot walk together unless they agree. To be carnally minded is death. Christ did not come to bring peace to our world but a sword; a sword that is sharper than any double-edged steal dividing the soul and spirit. He came to separate us from old ways and bring peace between us and the wrath of God. He comes to lead us out of slavery and harms way.
But we must go with Him fully. We cannot leave parts of us back in Egypt, we must take this Exodus. Oh, how hard the journey can feel sometimes! Oh, how often it seems we are bout ready to die! Oh, how many things we used to enjoy! Oh, the meat we used to eat and the play we used to have! It is as if we forget the slavery….
Yet, God takes these things away. To make us His own. To teach us to rely on Him. There is a promised land flowing with milk and honey, but we have to be ready for it. It is only for those willing to lose their lives for His sake. It is only for those who are willing to give everything to retain their souls. In the process of taking up our cross, Christ promises 100hundred-fold more in this time (with persecution) and everlasting life.
What does your cross include? Must you give up money? Must you take up a specific diet? Must you deactivate certain apps from your device? Must you unplug your television? Must you separate from certain people? Must you quit your job? What must you do? What is the Spirit of God showing you? What does your cross include?