A verse we read with one eye closed

I don’t know about you, but when I read the Bible there’s a silent conversation happening in my head. With a lot of stories and verses I’m saying things like ‘Yeah, that’s awesome, that’s good too, oh yup…”

But then I run into passages like this one and yup turns into gulp:

“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me.” (NJB)

It can be one of those passages we read with one eye closed. We mentally agree, but know in our soul that it’s a hard thing to do. (So we bounce along to the next story.)

While talking about his own suffering, self-giving love and sacrificial death, Jesus says that the cross (an ancient way to execute people which included a public shaming and torture ritual), is a necessary part of the lives of those who want to follow him. He doesn’t mean you’ll have to carry an actual cross. But he does mean you’ll have to make serious and love-based sacrifices as you put God’s will before your own.

What HE wants is more important than what YOU want. And that’s when the metaphorical ground beneath us starts to shake. Because it’s hard. And risky.

(And worth it.)

With his next breath Jesus says, “Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, will save it.” You may lose what you once knew. But what you gain will be infinitely more.

I wish I could say I was perfect at living this out. I’m not. I struggle with it all the time. A few years ago I started a blog called “Why I’m a sinner in 100 words.” But I haven’t published it yet because those 100 words have turned into 100,000 words!

But the question I’m always trying to ask myself as I go about my day and make decisions—and the question that might be helpful to you too—is this:

Is this just what I want, or is it what God wants?

How we answer tells us whether we’re carrying our cross… or not.

By Matthew Ruttan

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