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What does it really mean to carry the cross?

Loughborough Church - What does it really mean to carry the crossLuke 14:27 The Cost of Following Jesus

26 If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?

At such an important time of year it’s so important to remember Jesus and everything that He personally went through so that I could have my sins forgiven. I would not be in a relationship today with God today had I not at some point in my life accepted the work of Jesus on the Cross and all it meant.

The reason I can be assured of Heaven today is that I completely and utterly handed my life over to God by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice and recognising the price He paid on my behalf.

You can tell I’m labouring the point can’t you.

When we look at the life of Jesus and everything that He did for us. He clearly counted the cost of what He was about to do. He knew that He would have to go through an horrendous death so that we might have the opportunity to choose life for ourselves.

So, let’s look at these verses and unpack them a little. It seems a little harsh for the scriptures to be asking us to hate people doesn’t it?! Is that what it really wants?

I believe that verses 26 and 28 are a reality check for us. If you know how it feels to be ridiculed and expelled from your family because of your faith you’ll understand. Those of you who have lost jobs or been picked on at work for your faith will get it. Those of you who have tasted first-hand the disappointments that the world has to offer will know… the bottom line is:  Jesus. All that matters is Him.

So many things and people clamour constantly for our allegiance and our attention. But we know that our faith filled family will not get us into heaven or be able to live out a meaningful faith for us, we have to do that ourselves.

To follow God we must not put anything else in between us and Him, not our spouse, our children, our job, our wealth etc. You get the picture.

I wonder sometimes if we really know what we are getting ourselves into when we become Christians. What I mean is, we can’t possibly know (we are not foretellers!) all that is coming our way and what being a Christian will cost us on a daily basis but, and here’s where verse 27 comes in… I cannot follow Him / be a disciple unless I am willing to take the hardships and knocks with the joys. I have to take Jesus and the weight of the cross into every decision, every encounter, every day in the hope that I will become more like Him as I do so.

This is only a very brief unpacking of what I feel these verses might have to say but let me round off by referring to Hebrews 12:2.

Run with Perseverance

1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The verse that stands out the most to me is ‘for the joy set before Him’. The reason Jesus went through the terrible ordeal of the Cross was so that you and I might be reconnected to Him. I am that ‘Joy’, Christian .. you, are that ‘joy’. Unbeliever.. yes, you too are that ‘Joy’. We too have a joy set before us, that one day we will be with Him and understand fully all those things we don’t understand now. We will understand the mysteries then and we’ll be able to be with Him.

But for now, whatever you are experiencing, don’t forget to carry your cross with you there.

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference in which Mark Greenwood (some of you will know him) spoke about how he was trying to remember the cross on a daily basis. He’d even got himself a little wooden cross that he made an effort to put in his pocket every day. You may not choose to do that but how could you remember to carry the cross?

Carrying your cross means that you should honour the stand He took and the price He paid but trust also that He will preserve that which He fought for.