Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me.” We are people of the cross. The cross of Calvary is where Jesus Christ defeated sin and death’s grip on all of humanity. To give us life, Jesus had to die. It was a once and for all death, for a once and for all victory. We embrace the cross to embrace God’s freedom. But as followers of Jesus Christ, there is another cross we are commanded to carry: our own. Jesus Christ calls us to live in a new way, completely different from the ways of the world. Following Jesus begins with new spiritual birth and continues (for the rest of our days on earth) with the slow, but sure DEATH of our old self. This personal cross is a metaphor for dying to yourself. Dying to your old ways of thinking. Your old ways of living. Your old desires. Your old ambitions. Dying to everything you were before knowing Christ. Why does the old you have to die? Because there’s a better you being revealed! A completely forgiven, sin-cleansed, set-free, faith-filled, Spirit-connected, and Spirit-led you that God wants to release into the world! God wants to show the world His goodness, His grace, His power, and His love through YOU AND I, and the cross is how it’s done! To further understand what people of the cross are like, let’s look at the flip side of the coin. The opposite of a person of the cross is a person of the world and this is what we all WERE before we came to know and follow Jesus.
1 John 2:15-16 “Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love these things you show that you do not really love God; for all these worldly things, these evil desires—the craze for sex, the ambition to buy everything that appeals to you, and the pride that comes from wealth and importance—these are not from God. They are from this evil world itself.”
A person of the world lives only for the here and now.
A person of the cross lives both for the here and now AND the future because he understands this life is but a blink of an eye and is just preparation for the real and eternal life to come.
A person of the world seeks pleasure and satisfaction above all.
A person of the cross seeks purpose and the power of God’s Spirit to fulfill it.
A person of the world lives for himself.
A person of the cross lives for others (his wife, children, family, friends, coworkers, strangers - especially the weak and suffering - and even his enemies). One’s ability to move further along this line of people is proportional to one’s closeness to Jesus. The closer one becomes to Jesus, the more like Jesus he becomes and the more this person is able to love complete strangers and even enemies and before you declare that loving your enemy is impossible just remember that we were all ENEMIES of God at one time in our lives and Jesus died on the cross for us. Through His death, we now have peace with God and He calls us FRIENDS.
A person of the world seeks to accumulate things for her own comfort.
A person of the cross seeks to give things away for the blessing of others.
A person of the world seeks recognition for himself and glory for his own name.
A person of the cross seeks to lift up the name of Jesus and bring glory to God.
A person of the world compares herself with and seeks the approval of others.
A person of the cross understands her value and validation come from God and she lives free from the expectations and judgment of others.
A person of the world finds that after living for himself, he has nothing left and loses all.
A person of the cross finds that by living for God and others, he was never lacking and he gains everything.
We are people of the cross! Our calling is not popular, but it is profound. Our path is not comfortable, but it is secure. Our life will not be easy, but it will be rewarding beyond anything we can think of or imagine! Hebrews 10:39 “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”