We are in our 21 Days of Fasting and Prayer and this past Sunday, we talked about denying ourselves and taking up our cross in order to follow Christ. This term “take up your cross” is not something that is easy to understand much less do. The cross was a horrid symbol of pain, shame, and death. A person hung on it, naked, until his skeletal structure collapsed and he suffocated to death, without air and with his body drowning itself in its own fluids.
The cross is also a symbol of life. It is the mark of the believer who has died to sin and who is alive in Christ. In some traditions, the cross is called a crucifix and it has Jesus hanging on it. It is a reminder to me of the suffering, pain, shame and death that he endured for the world. Others, including myself have most commonly embraced an empty cross. One where Jesus is no longer suffering but is resurrected and victorious over death and grave. Both are important symbols that reflect the death and life that we must all go through. Taking up your cross is a symbol of dying to self, dying to those places in your life that do not look like your Savior. Dying to pride, selfishness, greed, lust, idolatry, anger … so that we can live for Christ. As Paul wrote to the church at Philippi …
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
And to a group of churches in Galatia …
I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith
in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
So, what are you dying to? Where is sin still alive in you and your Lord is calling you to take up your cross and follow Him and you know that it will require you to die to this sin? And what are you living for? Is life all about you? Is it time to say to Jesus, in the words of the of a great hymn …
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live.
May God have His will and way in our lives each and every day so that we might follow in His footsteps, denying our flesh and all that is sinful in order to live the life that Jesus would live if He were living our lives.