Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Take up your cross. Why? What is the point? Life is too hard as it is and guess what, I'm sick of cross bearing. I just want relief, some semblance of happiness. Shoot, I'll settle for escape-I am not even asking for happiness. Does this line of thinking resonate with you? How many times have you sat in a church pew or in a bible study and every one just seemed to be okay with what they just heard? Why are they nodding their heads? You have tried to be a good Christian in denying yourself, bearing up under the burden of the day--hoping relief will come. But no, only misery. Lets take a minute and look at Jesus' words in Luke 9:23. "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." Notice that Jesus is not telling you to deny something, he is telling you to deny "self," itself. This is the "you" that is not really you. It is the autonomous self. That part of you that desires to own your life, thoughts, desires, and have your own way in this life. It's what the Scripture calls the "old man" in Romans 6:6 and Ephesians 4:22. That "man" who you want to save is corrupt and broken and only desires more corruption which will create more brokenness and destruction in your life. This "man" will betray you, deceive you and tell you lies that would kill you if you let him. But, God loves you and does not want that to happen to you. God has created you to be that "new man or woman." Now he/she is something! When that "man" is feed the word of God, righteousness, and the goodness of Christ, "he or she" becomes what God intended you to be. Powerful. Strong. Holy. Joyful. Possessing a meaningful life. The "old man" is just rotten wood that must be burned off because it is not the "you" God created, it is the "you" that you and this world has created. God uses our suffering, difficult situations, and yes difficult people to burn off that dead wood. This is what it means to be crucified with Christ. Romans 6:6 says, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." The old man along with old practices, habit patterns, desires must die.....and it hurts. Thats why it feels like a cross. But the cross is life, new birth, and gives meaning to not only your life but the suffering you endure. Cross-bearing to the "old man" is pointless and vile but cross-bearing understood by the "new man" is necessary and life. So what is God using in your life right now to burn off the deed wood or your "old self?" Here is a quick journal strategy that will help you.
What happened that upset you? (The situation, the person)
What was your response? (in your thinking, words, or actions)
What did you want to happen? (were you thinking of your best interest, others, or Gods?)
What was the outcome (was it worse or better based on your actions or responses?)
Father, I know you tell me to deny myself and take up the cross----I can't without Your strength. Give me power to become the "self" you created me to be for your glory--not mine. You know I am weak and I confess my need for you. Help me to speak to myself the way You speak to me in your word. I am not horrible as my heart tells me, I am loved by You and empowered by the Holy Spirit to live a life of sacrificial love toward You and others. Give me peace in my mind--my heart. Give me joy that makes happiness look small. Let my life be meaningful for your Kingdom--Your Name. You are full of grace, goodness, and love. I submit myself anew to You and when I am lonely and without what I think I need I will come to You---My strong Tower and Lover of my very soul. Amen