“And calling near the crowd with His disciples, He said to them, Whoever will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it; but whoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel‘s, he shall save it. For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:34-37
When I first read this many, many years ago I thought about what things I needed to do to serve the Lord to carry my cross. For many, Christianity has become a “Works Oriented Religion”. In other words it is based upon our ability to do a whole lot of stuff to earn and keep God’s love. What Jesus was talking about in this passage was not doing a whole lot of things by taking up your cross and working for him, but the yielding of our whole heart to him because we believe in the work on the cross Jesus did. We take the persecution, reality, and fulfilling promise of the work on the cross in our lives daily. We receive God’s Grace daily carrying our cross.
In our hearts, our love for Jesus means being sold out, and in fellowship 100% with him. When you look at the scriptures Jesus says to “follow him”. When you follow Jesus that walk is not based upon what you do, but how you live in your heart towards him. That affects how we love others. Granted, our love may produce works and blessings to others because we are yielded to Jesus. Doing works was not the focus for Jesus… it was loving and redeeming mankind. It was his love for mankind that caused him to give his life on the cross. It only took his life not thousands of gods to restore mankind to God from the fall.
The love we are to have for what he did for us on the cross we bear daily in walking out our hearts towards him. The gospel is the good news that Jesus saves. The cross we are to bear is living that every day that we believes and fellowship with him daily. It is falling in love with Jesus. Following him means following his teachings. What did Jesus teach? That’s where our real walk begins: forgiving others, loving God, living like Christ, and walking at peace with God. Jesus’s teaching really provoked a brotherly love that first starts with loving and accepting him. The Holy Spirit in us guides us to walk out that love. If it was just about material things then the following verse in Mark 8:36 would not state “if a man gain the whole world and lose his soul, he will not gain anything.”
It is not about works and gaining material things. The church at times is spending hours encouraging just material gain. That is not the gospel. It is one of many benefits of the gospel that serving God provides, but it should not be the focus of our relationship with Jesus. It is out of order. It is in taking up our cross in our heart, spirit, body, and soul that we follow Jesus Christ. Our cross can be the rejection we get from that truth because of the choice we make in following his will and not our own or others. It is even in the growing in love with Jesus daily that we experience prayer and fellowship instead of choosing to live in sinful lives without conviction. It is in our love for him that we carry our cross, our self denial, and choose life in him instead of the world. The modern church’s teaching of the gospels to often makes Christianity look like it’s based upon works, performance, and doing tasks to show a Christian lifestyle. So many Christians are caught up in working off debt they owe to God, working to prove how spiritual they are, and working to gain heavenly brownie points. We are saved by Grace! The reality is we are in fellowship with God as we accept the work on the cross that Jesus did is the true gospel that gives us eternal life.
“…so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:15-17
It is that love relationship we have with Jesus that gives us life daily. But who is Jesus? Study the Gospels and find him for your self… again. We create our own image of God and Jesus after many years of losing the good news in church. Some churches are teaching everything, but the Jesus in the Bible and history. They are teaching the “Rolex Jesus”. They are teaching that God is a big bank and you have a storehouse that you can command heaven to give up. God will provide all your needs in the relationship you have with him through simple faith.
As a parent any child who comes into your house demanding stuff would probably get lectured , punished , and from the old school manner….. would be getting up off the floor. God is our heavenly Father. In that relationship we just need to ask and have faith with humility and hope. He knows what you have need of before you ask. Commanding and decreeing are ordering, barking, and demanding heaven. That is not a loving relationship with honor and reverence for God. Jesus is our example when he was in the world. He healed. He did what he saw in heaven and asked the Father to be glorified in it.
The gospel is being rewritten by many preachers. Go back and read again for your self who Jesus is, what he said, and what he taught. You will be refreshed in your love for him. You will fall in love all over again with the kindness, power, faithfulness, mercy , and grace in words, life, teaching, death, and resurrection. It is time to be sold out again for Jesus! He is the way truth and the light. Go back to the basics, shut down all the Christian fads and reconnect your love for Jesus all over again.
After losing both is my parent in the past three years I have come to realize how short and long life is. Without Jesus’s strength, I would not be able to make it. The simple scriptures of hope have become life to me. It is not the deep, demanding relationship I see so many try to have in the modern church. But it has been the simple peace in the midnight, His comfort when I cry, and the assuring hope that they made it home to heaven.
I am falling in love with Jesus all over again myself. It is trusting in that love with tears in my eyes, that I can make it through each day. Take some time right now to pray and reconnect with a pure honest heart. Where are you in your life and faith? Let Jesus come touch your heart . Let him in the places you have banned him from. Let him wipe away your tears of brokenness. Let him give you joy again. Today, fall in love again with Jesus… the real Jesus Christ and not the one that religion has given you. But the one in history who changed time, mankind, and holds the future…. your future. Fall back in love with Jesus!