He was given one sentence in scripture but that one line says it all.
“’As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.’” Matthew 27:32 ESV
Simon’s final walk with Jesus was no doubt heavy and long and yet carrying His cross offered Simon a very intimate encounter with the Savior of the world.
I wonder if we are missing out on a deeper connection with Jesus when we refuse the crosses that lay in the way of our path in life?
‘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 ESV
Just after Jesus foretells his own death and resurrection, He uses this phrase, “take up his [your] cross and follow me” as a command to his followers to dethrone any human desires and self-interests and enthrone His perfect plan and ways.
Practically speaking, taking up our cross might be saying ‘no’ to a particular ambition, dream, or career. The cross can be a stronghold or persistent struggle with sin. Our cross is anything that comes between living in complete obedience to Jesus. It is where our will and desires come in direct opposition to God’s will and divine plan.
For some, the cross might include surrendering television shows or social media scrolling if it’s taking the place of prayer or time with Jesus. Maybe our cross is praying for those who are far from God. In the daily rhythms of life, taking up our cross is often simply setting aside what is most comfortable or convenient and doing the thing that brings the most honor or glory to God.
The cross is dying to ourselves.
It might be showing compassion to those who are hurting when we don’t share the same views about their pain or perhaps walking away from our busy work to be present with our children. Our cross may be looking past an offense to forgiveness when we don’t want to let go of a grudge because Jesus is never more on display than in our choice to love and forgive.
We cannot say we follow Jesus while we elevate our own self.
As a parent, sacrifice might feel like all we ever do. Maybe as a people-pleaser, saying ‘no’ to ourselves is all we know. Taking up our cross goes beyond our daily submissions. This is a request to look beyond the actual sacrifice and ask ourselves if this surrender points to Jesus. Our crosses in life are what serve to advance the gospel.
Is there a reflection of Christ in our giving? Does our sacrifice leave an aroma of Christ’s love and hospitality with our spouse, our neighbors, the waiter, or the grocery store clerk?
Staying surrendered in our suffering
Opportunities to take up our cross sit outside of our limits. We might look at our watch for the time to serve or check our wallet for the resources to give, but carrying the cross will always ask for more. That’s why we must partner with Jesus, who sits outside of time and provides all our needs, to help us bear what we cannot do alone.
For me, I find my cross in what frustrates me the most. When I feel weak or my spirit feels heavy, Jesus reminds me that I’m limping with the cross on my own. It’s important to stay surrendered to Jesus every step of the way in our suffering. He will bear the heavy lifting and persevere us through it.
As we make difficult choices that reflect Jesus and honor God, the Holy Spirit will chisel away at our character, mature our spiritual development, and work these trials out for our good. We may not be called to missions in a foreign land or daily persecution for our faith, but as followers of Jesus, we all have a cross to take up with Christ.
If you were given one sentence to summarize your life, what would that line say? Would we read about Jesus and the cross you carried together? Every day we have an incredible opportunity to walk intimately with the King of Kings and be a living sacrifice to a hurting and searching world. Our cross is what we have in common with Jesus.
In Your Life:
Taking up our cross is unselfish living. What excuses do I get trapped in when an opportunity to serve and share Jesus is available?
Sacrifice brings suffering. What am I afraid of when it comes to taking up my cross?
Taking up my cross goes beyond sacrifice. It’s a deliberate choice to share Jesus. Where is one place I can lean in and listen like Jesus, give or serve like Jesus, and submit to God’s leading today?
Trisha Keehn is a creative writer fueled by a lifetime of faith. She is part of the Life.Church and YouVersion Bible App creative writing team, a communications specialist in mental health, and uses her broadcast news background to help companies choose their words wisely. Trisha is a wife, mother, coffee connoisseur, lover of libraries, and a savvy traveler. Find more of her words at www.trishakeehn.com.
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