“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.
(Luke 9:23-26 NIV)

To us, the cross looks like a beautiful thing. But, when you look at Christ’s statement in the 1st century context you get something totally different. The cross was a punishment for criminals that was meant to be as brutal and demeaning as humanly possible. This would be like you guys coming here and I tell you, “You can not be a follower of Christ unless you pick up your electric chair and follow Him.” Now that’s weird enough, but that death is still less painful and less demeaning than the cross.

Now we think, yeah, but the electric chair is not what Christ died on. Christ’s statement really has nothing to do with an instrument in which He died on. It has to do with His character in what He did. He left the praises and majesty of Heaven and came to this dusty, sin riddled, earth to give up His life for people who didn’t care about Him and didn’t do anything for Him. He did not think highly of Himself, and humbled Himself for the service of others. That’s what our cross is. This is why Christ followed up this statement with, "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?" That’s why, when a person professes to be a Christian, if a person continues through life with little thought about the person hurting, in need, lonely, and sick; and they live their life only comforting themselves in their entertainment, food, warm homes, around people they know; those people have not taken up their cross. They are not really following God.

The picking up of our cross involves us not looking at our life and saying, “I’m blessed and highly favored”; but rather starting the day saying, “Who can I bless today”. It’s a point that we would give up the multitude of clothes in our closet so someone can have clothes to wear. Its a point where we will fast a day or two a week so someone can eat. It’s the fact that we would get off our lazy Christian rear ends, pull away from the sports and reality TV, and go and visit someone we don’t even know - a person who may have no one. THAT is take up your cross and a following of Christ.

This should be the new years resolution of every single Christian. Yes, new years is past, but its never too late to make a resolution. Every Christian needs to propose that they will start the day in a complete a full effort to bless someone that day - ESPECIALLY someone they don't know; and even better still, someone who does not like you.
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