A Jesus Follower
As the early churches were being established after Jesus ascended into Heaven, we see that the people called themselves, and were called by others, Followers of the Way. The people starting the early church were followers of Jesus throughout His ministry. In chapter 9 of Luke, Jesus tells a crowd exactly what they must do if they want to be his follower.
“Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23)
Jesus gives the crowd three things to do to be his follower: give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow him. It’s important to reflect on these three things and self-assess where we are as followers of Christ.
Give Up Your Own Way
I’ve spent more of my life doing things my way than I have doing things Jesus’ way, and I can say that Jesus’ way is much, much better. This is the classic example of the sinful nature vs. the nature of the Holy Spirit: your way or His way. If you want to be a follower of Jesus, He says you have to give up your way. It’s only logical; if you are not yet a follower of Jesus, your way is rooted in sin. If you want to follow Jesus, you must give up obeying your sinful nature.
“… throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.” (Ephesians 4:22)
“Don't you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” (Romans 6:16)
Take Up Your Cross Daily
Imagine Jesus saying that at a time when the cross was the ultimate symbol of pain, humiliation, and death. If you want to follow Jesus, you have to take up your cross daily? What would that sound like to the crowd Jesus was addressing? Jesus was saying that if you want to follow him, you have to be willing to die. Jesus explained in the very next verse.
“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.” (Luke 9:24)
Giving up your life for Jesus is the only way you save it. You have to be willing to take up your cross daily, to go out and be willing to die to yourself and your way, and live the way Jesus tells you to—willing to die for the Truth.
“If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26)
So you have set aside yourself by giving up your own way and living according to the Spirit (Romans 8:5), you have chosen to take up your cross daily, prepared to die for the Truth of the Lord Jesus (Acts 21:13), and now you are ready to follow Jesus. Follow His commands and examples of loving everyone (John 13:34) and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and do not be ashamed of Jesus or His message (Luke 9:26). Die to yourself each morning, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.
(The Constant Battle is scheduled to have an article featured on Gene Whitehead's website on Tuesday, May 29th. We will link to that article from here and for our email subscribers! Have a great Memorial Day Weekend everyone!)
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.