This is the 6th post in a series on how to share our faith: Evangelism is at the heart of a healthy church, but it makes people nervous. This series is meant to provide you with simple, easy tools to share your faith.
In Luke, chapter 9, verses 23-25, we read this:
‘And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?’
Jesus asks his disciples to leave behind some things, and to pick up one thing. Jesus invites his disciples on a journey, and when we take a journey – when we go on a trip – we have to plan what to pack, and what to leave.
The journey Jesus invites us to join, is simply to follow him. And the first thing he asks us to leave behind, is our “selves”. To deny our “selves”, is to – again and again – lay to rest that part of ourselves that only wants what we want. Jesus wants us to stop listening to the Egocentric Trinity: “Me, Myself, and I”, and to start listening to His voice: “For what does it profit a person if she gains the whole world and loses or forfeits herself?”
To leave behind our “selves”, means to practice leaving behind those things we can’t take on our journey with Jesus. “Practice” because Jesus says we have to do it daily – it’s usually not a once-and-for-all leaving behind.
What do you need to leave behind? I bet the Spirit has been whispering to you, about those specific things you need to leave behind. If He’s been whispering, it also means He’s ready to give you power to leave those things behind. Turn to Him in prayer. Speak with a brother or sister, and ask for help. When you reach out to God and other believers, the problem that you’re facing, shrinks in size very quickly, because you’re asking God and your friends to help you bear the load.
Jesus also calls us to pick up our crosses. Now what does that mean? At least this: The honor, privilege, joy, and glory of serving with Jesus – the way of Jesus Christ, is the way of the Cross.
To take up our crosses, means to join him in building his Kingdom. That can mean difficult work: loving someone who is very difficult to love; extending forgiveness to someone who doesn’t seem to deserve it; committing time and energy to God’s work, when we’d rather push the “easy” button.
That can also mean joyful, peace-filled work: Think of the meals that Jesus had with his disciples, and the people who were following him. Think of Jesus’ quiet time, apart, in prayer, gathering strength for the work he was called to.
What do you need to leave behind?
What can you pick up today, to join Jesus in his Kingdom-building work?