What did Jesus mean when He said we have to carry a cross?
I’ve heard people talk about a problem they have and say it’s a cross they have to bear, but is this what Jesus meant?
No, this isn’t what He meant—although it’s not necessarily wrong to refer to some problem we are having as a “cross” we must bear.
In Jesus’ day, a cross was a symbol of suffering, and we all have trials and afflictions that may be very hard for us to bear—even with God’s help.
But Jesus meant something far deeper than this when He told His disciples to carry their cross.
He said to them, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
In Jesus’ day, a cross wasn’t just a symbol of pain and suffering; it was mainly a symbol of death.
What Jesus was telling them is that they needed to put to death their own plans and desires, and then turn their lives over to Him and do His will every day.
You see, Jesus doesn’t simply call us to believe that He existed, or even to believe that He can save us.
He calls on us to commit our whole lives to Him—to trust Him alone for our salvation, and then to follow Him as His disciples.
He said, “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
Is Christ the master of your life?
Have you put to death your own plans and committed yourself to His will for your life?
Don’t be satisfied with anything less, for there is no greater joy in life than following Christ every day.
– Billy Graham
The problems and obstacles in our life come not to defeat us, but to make us stronger in Jesus!
We need to start looking at these obstacles as opportunities for us to grow and be stretched, in order for us to be conformed (molded and shaped) into the image of Christ (Rom 8:29).
Each one is God’s invitation for us to draw closer and sink our roots deeper in Him.
by Graham Cooke
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
– Colossians 3:1-4
Given the right mindset, everything that occurs to us in life is an opportunity.
The temptation is to see the positive and the negative as things that happen to us: just as we can encounter favor and gifts, so too adversity and strife can come to bite us when we least expect it.
It’s like we’re children, wandering cluelessly through a minefield seeded with beautiful flowers.
That isn’t the case, of course. The positive and the negative are creations of our brains, and how we choose to perceive the situations and circumstances that we find ourselves in will inform how we classify them for ourselves.
Obstacles in life are challenging, in the best and most brilliant meaning of that word: they set out a challenge to us to meet, to rise to in Christ.
They challenge us to increase our capacity for God’s fullness, to make the dream bigger in every respect.
We are in Christ, learning to become more like Him.
That’s our identity in the Kingdom: followers of Christ, subject to the furious love of God.
The church is the Lord’s Beloved, forever learning how to best accept that love, and that passion that God has for us provides us with our identity as Christians and as people, as individuals.
We are warriors. We are men and women who overcome: we do not simply endure, we rise up and overwhelm.
We have been provided with a place in the Kingdom, a place on high by the side of the Father, and we rise up to claim that place.
The action of that rising is the beginning of a spiritual journey.
In point of fact, it’s a Spiritual journey, as we partner with the Holy Spirit, our mentor in Christ and our sponsor in the Kingdom.
His vision becomes our vision as we set out upon the journey: and make no mistake, the road can be a bumpy one.
We’ll encounter blessing, no question.
We’ll meet the fullness of God, the joy of His anointing.
We’ll embrace His kindness and favor.
We’ll come to know the incredible rest that lies at the core of God’s being, that peace that He brings to us all.
There will be an experience of His Presence that will last our entire lifetime.
There will also be opposition. Warfare and persecution come hand in hand with living in Christ.
We’re children in the Kingdom, but we cannot afford to be naïve… we are opposed in our journey.
Negativity has declared itself our enemy. But just as the best and greatest way to destroy an enemy is to make him our friend, so the best way to conquer negativity is not to deny it, to turn our backs upon it, but rather to flip it around and see it from another angle, a loftier perspective. God’s perspective. It’s the art of thinking brilliantly.
The obstacles that we encounter are good for us. Adversity is opportunity in disguise.
Often it’s a very good disguise, of course—but that’s the point. If these things are here to challenge us, they have to represent a challenge.
There’s no Spiritual cache in overcoming when it’s easy, and each one of these stressful situations is specifically designed to provide a maturing experience in Christ.
We need to grow up to be the people that God knows we can be, and these confrontational circumstances are part of the ongoing conversation with Him that allows us to catch a glimpse of those people: to see how He sees, discover how He thinks, and sense His perception of us.
These things are necessary because, to be absolutely blunt, left to our own devices we would probably take every easy option there was.
We’d keep following the line of least resistance, coasting down in the same direction, specifically avoiding anything challenging.
Obstructions will slow us down: but that’s a good thing. It gives us time and space to stop and to think, to examine where we are in Christ and how to overcome this latest incidence of negativity.
Barriers in our way are useful, necessary pauses for reassessment and reevaluation.
It’s at this point that the conversation with the Kingdom must take place.
There are questions that must be raised with the Spirit: what is the obstacle intended for? What is its purpose? What can be released to us in the examination of this latest challenge?
We must always allow ourselves the space to receive what the Father is intending to give to us.
The Father’s vision for our journey isn’t just about the direction we’re intended to take, but also about the height at which we are intended to travel.
You’ll have heard it said before: everything there is to experience in Christ has an element of elevation to it.
We are seated with Him in Heavenly places. We seek what is above. God is on high, the highest, and that perspective is the one we’re intended to assume.
Once we imagine every obstacle, every adverse circumstance, as being a gift from the Father, our own perspective will shift and alter.
It must, because our old perspective was that of the obstructed.
Taking God’s perspective allows us to see the obstruction from a position of having already overcome it.
That challenge moves from tragedy to opportunity. That grief becomes our greatest gift, because it’s been designed, tailored and placed there specifically to assist us in becoming something magnificent… that thing He saw in us before we were even born.
The questions that we ask the Spirit are key here.
In Acts 2, at the Day of Pentecost, the first coming of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had prophesied, two of the truly great questions were asked by those in attendance that day:
What does this mean? and
What shall we do?
Faced with the unprecedented, that first Act that would create a whole church, change the course of millions of lives, level and raise nations and kings, those experiencing the challenge asked the questions that would see them surf that tidal wave and experience the greatness to come.
On that day, they rose. When our time comes, we’ll rise with them.
Come join the Adventure!
Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
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