One of the toughest things to do as a Christian is to pick up your cross and follow Jesus. Deciding to pick up your cross means that you identify with Jesus and open yourself up to all the rejection and shame that he received. The cross was the most shameful punishment of his time but he willingly endured it so that we could be free.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it. For what will it benefit someone if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will anyone give in exchange for his life?”
There is a distinct path to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. You have to confess that Jesus is the Son of the living God. (vs. 16) You also need to believe that Jesus came and to give up his life for us. Through his crucifixion, our sins have been forgiven and our relationship with God has been restored. There is one final step you must take as a disciple; pick up your cross.
If you want to follow Christ you have to deny ourselves, pick up your cross, and follow Christ. This is the daily walk of the believer. It is not easy but it is the most rewarding thing we can do with our time here on earth. Jesus says straight up “What does it benefit if someone gains the whole world yet loses his life?” The greatest pursuit you can take is to follow Christ on a daily basis.
To take that path means you have to deny yourself. This happens on several levels. You have to deny chasing after the temporary pleasures that fill your time and drain your bank account but on a higher level, you need to realize that the life Christ has for you may not line up with your plans. Being a disciple means that you are willing to follow the path and plan God sets out for you. At first, it might not seem appealing but as you travel that path you will realize what God was doing. Discipline yourself to deny the constant urges that entice you and submit to the way God wants to put you on.
Identify with Jesus
Picking up your cross means to identify with Christ. The cross in the first century was the cruelest form of punishment from the Roman government.
To take up the cross means to identify with Christ in His rejection, shame, suffering, and death. But suffering always leads to glory. Do you identify with Christ? Do those around you know that you are sold out to following him? There are a lot of closet Christians out there who want the benefits of following Jesus but don’t want to suffer the rejection and shame. Jesus is very clear that we make a choice. It’s two paths.