Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. ESV
I guess that every time I have come to this verse my mind pictures Jesus suffering on the cross for me. And as a result, I have always interpreted His command is to “face suffering in my life” … deny myself, take up, and follow. Well, this morning I saw it a different way through the eyes of the Spirit.
One of the first things that happens as we begin to experience the sanctification that we have been given is to begin losing our own identity as we draw closer to Jesus. But that is just the beginning, it is not the final place we search for. The more we lose our natural identity the more we develop the identity Jesus has; the identity we have been given in His life that lives in us. Frederick Brook summed it up well …
My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace, Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God.
So, if “taking up our cross” is not suffering, what is it?
I think our cross is the steady, constant exhibition of the fact that we are no longer our own. We belong to Jesus; we know it, are conscious of that fact, and are determined not to be drawn away in another direction by any other. We are committed to living a living a life dedicated to Him.
Taking up our cross will involve suffering but that is not its sole purpose. It is the process of living the real life of faith as we “take it up daily and follow Jesus.”