I hate being forced to do things. You probably do too, since most of our actions are based on what we want. We have an aversion to anything forced. The freedom to choose is what we live by, and at times we fight for it. So, imagine this moment …
What? Me? Why me? No … really, please … I don’t want to do that! I can’t help him. If he is a criminal, then why would I want to help him? He should carry his own cross. Please, no …
The questions begin flowing so quickly you don’t have time to react. You’re already being pushed out into the path and told to pick up a bloody man’s cross. In fear for your own life and being flogged yourself, you cave. You submit.
Suddenly you are carrying this heavy beam on your shoulders, down a path. Behind you is a man you barely know. The man in front of you brings a sick feeling to your stomach. The moment is so intense you can’t even think. It’s hard to glance at the man in front of you, let alone find the strength to bear this cross that was never your beam to bear in the first place. But, you follow anyway, forced into it. This man’s cross has now become your cross. You must carry it. There is no choice. You’re forced to follow.
This is but a snapshot of discipleship. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23) Real freedom in life is not found in the things of this world but at the point of denial, where your own life is given up with Christ and becomes a new life found in Him.
Following Jesus is a big decision. At least it was for me. I’ve learned that following Jesus is costing and giving, not accumulating. For me, this cost is a small price compared to the greatest love imaginable … a love that will never fade. His love for me overwhelms to the point of denial that gives rise to a deep joy inside. For me, it is now no longer an obligation to follow Jesus but a willful, voluntary and joyful sacrifice. Strangely enough, I actually want to deny myself for the sake of discipleship and the journey with Jesus.
Consider journaling in response to the following questions about your own discipleship:
- Have you made the choice to follow Jesus? If so, what has that decision cost you? If not, what do you sense is holding you back? Is it the cost to follow?
- Where is Jesus leading you to deny yourself? How do you feel about what you may need to deny in order to gain more with Christ?
- Where do you sense following Jesus is already costing you something? What has “carrying that cross” been like for you?
“O that I could give myself up to him, so as never more to attempt to be my own or have any will or affections that are not perfectly conformed to his will and his love!”
-“Consecration and Worship.” Valley of Vision, p.128
Find more devotionals in Christ Church of Oak Brook’s Lenten Devotionals or follow along at #ccoblent2014