"Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'" (Matthew 16:24)
Jesus is speaking to his disciples, those who claim to be followers of Jesus. Every person who claims to have a relationship with Jesus is to be a disciple of Jesus, one who follows. And in this verse Jesus lays out the requirement of being a follower. It's not a life of expecting but rather of giving. It's not a life of luxury but of cross dragging. It's not a life of getting everything that you want but rather striving to meet the needs of others for Jesus. It's a life not about selfishness but rather of selflessness. It's a life that requires us to give up our dreams and take on the dreams of Jesus. It's not about saying a prayer and then waiting for heaven. Rather, it's about surrendering to Jesus and living for him. Philip Yancey says it this way:
"The people of God are not merely to mark time, waiting for God to step in and set right all that is wrong. Rather, they are to model the new heaven and new earth, and by so doing awaken longings for what God will someday bring to pass."
The cross is not comfortable, so my life should not be about striving to be comfortable, but rather to be used by Christ to be a comfort to others.
As I read this passage, I had to ask myself these questions to Jesus:
1). Have I done this? Am I doing this?
2). When you look at my life, am I resembling a true follower of you?
Jesus, I want to be your follower. Please teach me and direct me to deny myself, pick up my cross and follow you. I am yours. Please work in me that I am a worker approved for service to your kingdom cause of the gospel.