Take Up Your Cross

“Sometimes we must experience a death to our own vision before we can catch a glimpse of God’s perfect plan.”  –Dr. Don Rauniker

“If you knew you that today was your last day on earth, what would you do differently?” I’ve been asked that question at times, and I always tell people that I would want to live the day as well as I try to live out every other day. But I suppose that we would all live differently if we knew with certainty that today was our final day of life. 

In Mark 8:34, we find this startling statement: “When he [Jesus] had called the people to himself, with his disciples also, he said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’” Taking up the cross does not only mean bearing a burden; someone taking up a cross is about to die. Though many did (and still do) give their lives for the truth of God, this command isn’t about a one-time death to self, but consistent self-sacrifice. This kind of deep denial, a dying to sin and self, is to be a part of our daily walk with Christ. The problem is clear: as followers of Christ, we are new creations in him, and our old selves are dead (2 Corinthians 5:17), but the old habits and old patterns of who we were before Christ exert influence over our lives now. Therefore, we must die daily to those influences and live for Jesus by his power (Galatians 2:20).

This sinful self-centeredness is rooted so deeply into our hearts that it often takes a major event to expose it for what it is. Michael Kruger sums it up well in his recent article regarding our response to COVID-19…

What then can be done, at least on a human level, to stop the virus? Well, here’s where we come to a rich—and perhaps tragic— irony in the current situation: we can only stop the virus by doing what is best for others not just for ourselves. The virus will be curbed when people embody a spirit of self-sacrifice. A posture of self-denial. We must limit our travel, limit our social contact, even limit our “fun” so that the virus won’t spread. And that requires a worldview that gives us a reason to deny ourselves. A reason to think of others. In other words, we need a worldview that is about more than us. In short, “You do you” won’t work.

So then, the pressing question is not, “If you knew you that today was your last day on earth, what would you do differently?”

The more important question for today, and for the rest of our days, is: “If you died to self each day, how would your entire life be different?”         

To quote a great pastor from years ago, “Might we go to our own funerals” each day, dying to self and living for Christ.

Pray that…

We would look out for the well-being of those around us. – Philippians 4:2 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

We would practice Christ-like self-denial when faced with the opportunity for sin and self-sacrifice when faced with the opportunity for service. – Luke 14:27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

We would present ourselves to God as living sacrifices to be used by him as he sees fit. – Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 

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