Billy's Blog
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July 18, 2017, 9:46 AM

Pick Up Your Cross

 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."--Matthew 16:24

How do you define what it means to pick up your cross in our culture? When Jesus told the people in the first century to pick up their cross and follow him they knew what it meant. They watched people pick up their cross. They witnessed people carrying their cross down the street to have their life taken from them. 

Does this really mean we have to be willing to die to follow Jesus? Yes and no. 

I think when Jesus said this it was both literal and figurative. If you were a Christian in the first century there was a strong likelihood you may have to give your life for your faith. History tells us that all of the apostles were martyred except for John and he was boiled in hot oil. You can read books that detail the ways Christians died because of their faith. People are still being persecuted and put to death because they are believers. 

But it's more than a physical death. 

We may never face this kind of death in America and I hope we never do, but it doesn't mean that we can't pick up your cross. 

WE NEED TO DIE TO OURSELVES. 

Picking up your cross also means that we are going all in. There is nothing we are holding back. There is no other option for our lives. It's Jesus or nothing. So what does this mean? What does it really mean to go all for Jesus? 

I love this illustration I was shown a few years ago. I can't really show it to you but I can describe it and I hope you can picture it in your head. 

Picture a pie chart. There are percentages that cut up the pie into pieces. Let's say you are doing a pie chart of your life. One piece of the pie is your work. One piece of your pie is your family. One piece of your pie is your money. One piece of your pie is God. You have this pie all split up and each piece is independent of each other. God gets a piece of your life. He gets Sunday morning, he might get a few moments of prayer every once in a while, but he has nothing to do with your family or your work or your money. This is how many people serve God. God does not have their whole lives just a piece. This is not picking up your cross. 

Now picture a solar system. The sun is in the middle and all of the planets orbit around it. The planets are what they are because of their relationship to the sun. Picture your life like this. God is in the middle of everything you do. God influences how you spend your money, how you raise your money, how you do your job and everything else in your life. This is picking up your cross. 

James tells us in James 4:15 that instead of making plans on our own we should say, "if the Lord wills", we will do this or that. He says it's boastful to think we can control our lives. Not only is it boastful it's silly. How many of you have realized that all of our plans should be written in pencil, because life can change in the blink of an eye. How many plans get changed everyday in your life, because life is unpredictable? 

So the idea of picking up a cross might not speak as loudly and clearly as it did in first century world. But we can still understand the concept and GO ALL IN. 


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