If Anyone Would Come After Me, Let Him Deny Himself And Take Up His Cross Daily And Follow Me

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Luke 9:23 – Scripture of the Day (February 3, 2014)

Hundreds of churches of Christ held their regular evening worship services yesterday.  And as is the case year after year, there were many Christians who could have chosen to come back to worship their Redeemer that night but instead chose to worship the god of football.  I am reminded of how a preacher asked a Christian yesterday morning to come back that night to hear another lesson from the Word, and was laughingly told, “I won’t make any promises.”  The preacher asked the Christian, “What would the ‘old man’ do?”  (Eph. 4:22)  The Christian replied, “He would stay home and watch the game with a beer in his hand.”  The preacher then asked, “So what will the ‘new man’ do?”  (Eph. 4:24)  The Christian shrugged and said, “Stay home and watch the game.”

Is that denying self?  To ask is to answer…

When Jesus talked about “taking up one’s cross,” his listeners would have immediately correlated that with suffering hardship, even to the point of dying horribly, for the cause of Christ.  It’s hard for us American Christians to really get the idea behind this, because we have no idea how easy we have had it.  For generations, we have suffered ostracism, insults, and the like for our faith…but only a small minority have lost their jobs and homes, been imprisoned, and have been put to death because of their faith.  Yet, the signs are there that, slowly but surely, all of that is changing.  America is slowly becoming more and more openly hostile to pure, unadulterated, scriptural Christianity.  From the pulpit, I asked the congregation last night to consider how strong the temptation would be to ask me to avoid preaching biblical truth about homosexuality if the church was fined or sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars because I did so.  I said that it’s easy to sit in our air-conditioned building on our padded pews and say, “We would never tell you to not preach truth, Jon”…but it’s quite a different thing to actually put that loyalty into practice if open, hostile, severe persecution from the government came to New Testament Christianity.  However, that’s exactly what “taking up one’s cross” means.

Would we be willing to go that many extra miles for our faith if we’re not even willing to deny ourselves for even one or two quarters of a football game?  Again, to ask is to answer…

Who will follow Jesus?  Only those who are willing to first deny themselves over the small things, so that they will be willing to take up their cross every single day when called upon.  That’s what real Christianity is all about, folks…

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