Taking up your Cross…and other things we down play.

notquitesheep5

“So if you follow Jesus today…then what do you DO exactly?”  For the longest time I didn’t know how to answer this question.  My best answer was: It depends.  Because it does depend on who you are, what you’re doing, and what God wants for you…  After all God placed you where you are for a reason.  But the Bible has a really straightforward answer to the question that we like to ignore.  Jesus said, “if ANYONE would come after me…” (meaning this particular bit of advice applies to EVERYONE who wants to follow Jesus, past present and future…) “…let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  So what does that mean?  If you’re like me, there’s a part of you that probably doesn’t really want to know… so read on if you dare!

Taking up your cross, agreeing to your death (in essence), means taking your hopes, wants, dreams, desires, and plans for you life, along with your rights and things you feel entitled to, and giving them up, throwing them away for Jesus, and instead taking whatever God (your Shepherd) sees fit to bring you.

Now Christians love to argue against this.  That’s good, because it means you’re taking the words seriously!  And they ask things like, “yeah but what does it mean to give up something?”  It means you’re not going to chase after it, because you don’t need it, all you need is your Shepherd.

See, the reason why sheep get lost and get into trouble is because they love grass, follow where the grass looks yummy, and when they’re done, they chase after where the grass looks greener…the grass over there (maybe on the side of a cliff) that looks so awesome.  What they really NEED, however, is to follow the Shepherd.  A good shepherd will lead them to water and grass and safety and everything they want and need…  So think about this for a moment: if sheep go after what they want and need they screw up their lives, but if they give up chasing after grass and follow the Shepherd, then the Shepherd will get them grass and everything they need.  Right?  Jesus is saying, the same is true for you.  Step one of following your Shepherd is giving up your hopes and plans and dreams, and following God instead.

What that means is there will be things you want, things you feel you HAVE TO HAVE (!), things you thirst for and hunger for – and it may be something you DESERVE, that you OUGHT to have.  All your friends might think you deserve it too!  Jesus is saying, “give it up.”  Jesus deserved glory and honor and a nice life and family and all those things too – instead He took up the Cross for us… and so now we who follow Him to real life, have to take up our crosses too.  Only ours is much lighter, and almost immediately brings us blessings… (I’ll talk about that in another post sometime).

So what do we DO, practically if we’re taking up our crosses?  You pray, “Lord, Jesus gave His life to save me and make me your Son, I give you my life, all my hopes and dreams and rights are yours to do whatever You see fit.”  And then you do four things:

1. Delight in what you have…

We lose out on the joy God gives us oftentimes because it’s not the thing we happen to WANT…  On Sunday we used the analogy that we often hate certain pictures of ourselves, we think they look awful – until we see the same pictures when we’re much older – then we think, “I looked pretty good here!”  We hated the pictures oftentimes because we didn’t look the way we WANTED to look… and so what we wanted made us miserable, even though what we HAD was good.  Taking up your Cross means delighting in what God gave you for now – because you are no longer worrying about what you WANT.  You have a good Shepherd, so you can always delight in Him, and there will be plenty of good things to delight in as well.

2. Be open to what God sends you…

This goes along with #1…  God is bringing you good things now.  When you give up your wants and dreams, you can be open to God’s wants and dreams for you, and accept what He wants to give you right now.

3. Crucify the new desires that creep in…

There will be new wants, new grass, that takes hold of your heart… daily.  So you have to give them up again and again…

4. Seek what God wants you to do…

If you’re doing 1,2, and 3 then this is not so hard.  People often have SUCH a difficult time with this because their “wants” are so strong that they can’t see what God wants.  But if you’re delighting in what God has given you, if you’re open to new things living in the present (instead of living in your desires), and actively giving up your wants and dreams – then figuring out what God wants of you TODAY is usually not so difficult.  It’s often right there in the Bible.  Sometimes you need other shepherd following sheep to offer suggestions on what God may want… but mostly it’s in all the imperative statements in the Bible.

Then voila!  You are following the Shepherd…. living a different kind of life, the new life.  Will you join me in this?  Sometimes with tears, sometimes with a bit of self-pitying agony, doing a tiny little version of what Jesus did at Gethsemane, agreeing to die to His rights for God’s sake (and for ours)… would you die to yourself for Jesus’ sake and follow?  …so He can bless you.

Related posts:

  1. Beware…of Religious People
  2. A life without compromise…
  3. Taking care of things…
  4. What the cross meant…
  5. But are you willing to fail?
  6. The ministry of play…
  7. Take care of the church…
  8. Why there are Jesus dropouts…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>