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“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake you will save it”’ (Matthew 16:24,25 NLT).
What do you notice when you first read these verses? When I read these verses, I immediately noticed the personal sacrifice. Surrender your selfish ways – we don’t always realize our selfishness, because our actions are familiar and comfortable. Take up your cross—the cross is a symbol of sacrificial death—this is not necessarily good news. Also, Jesus implores us to give up our lives. It appears like we are giving up plenty, but the truth is—Jesus’ words contain the key to authentic life—following Him, surrendering our lives, not preserving them is the answer to life.
“If any of you wants to be…” following Jesus is a choice, a decision. He won’t force us to follow. Unlike following someone on Twitter, Jesus’ invitation is to follow Him close. Follow Jesus faithfully and obediently—align with His Lordship and His mission. He asks us to choose to follow Him—turning from our selfish ways (our usual and comfortable ways).
We don’t just invite Him into our life; more importantly, He invites us to leave our life and follow Him. The life Jesus calls us into does not mean life on a parallel track but a life on an opposing track—leading us in the opposite direction of the natural — the opposite direction of self.
We all have crosses to bear—troubles and challenges, obstacles and struggles. Jesus tells us to pick up our crosses and not let them deter us from following Him wholeheartedly. If we allow Him, He can use the crosses we bear to shape our character and deepen our faith.
He wants us to choose to follow Him and to keep following…even unto death. If we try to hold onto personal comfort and safety there is no promise of life. He promises life to those who abandon themselves to follow Him and His way.
To follow Him suggests He is always moving, seeking, loving. Where? He is among the broken, the hurting, the abandoned, and the forgotten. Jesus pursues those who are lost. He is waiting for us to join Him.
Will you say yes to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, and let Him lead? Will you follow Him into a hurting world in need of a Savior?
Lord, I choose to say yes to your invitation to follow. Align my heart with yours. Lead me each step into the life You have for me. Thank you for your promise of life to those who will follow You without reservation!
Questions: Are you ready to say yes, to Jesus invitation? What areas of your heart need realignment with His? Are there ways you are trying to hang onto your life?