Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: . . . “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
The Cost of Following Christ
My first experience with a different culture happened when I was three years old. I was unprepared for the shock of being one of the few white children in a crowd of dark-skinned nationals. My pale skin, maize-colored hair, and bright blue eyes alarmed other toddlers. They would cower and cry in their mothers’ arms because they thought they had seen a ghost. Whenever I explored the areas near my home, I would hear my African peers call after me, “Mzungu!” (white-skinned wanderer).
As shocked as I first was, I grew to cherish that culture. In fact, when I left the warm heart of Africa for the cold tundra of Wisconsin, I felt like I had abandoned the culture of my childhood.
Jesus loves you so much. He doesn’t want you to be unprepared for the shock of belonging to his culture or unaware of the eternal shock of being apart from it.
Do you understand what it means to belong to the culture of Christ? Jesus wants you to know. The cross is central to who Jesus is. It is the heart of what it means to follow him. His cross reveals our sinfulness, but it also reveals his love. There he took full responsibility for our sin and purchased our salvation from the shocking consequence of hell. And his cross points us to the home in heaven that he has won for us.
Following Jesus means that we stick out among mainstream culture. Following his Word makes us wanderers in the world. We don’t settle for the good life because we long for eternal life in heaven. We sacrifice sinful pleasures because we cherish every spiritual blessing we have in Christ. We put aside personal agendas because we love the peace we have with God.
Jesus’ words are startling. But those who are wise in Christ rejoice to trust and follow him. For the benefits of carrying our cross far outweigh the shock of being different.
Lord Jesus, make me strong to carry my cross and wise to follow you through this world on the way that leads to eternal life. Amen.