Enduring The Cross!

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! March is one of my favorite months. No, it’s not because of March Madness (even though I love the college basketball tournament. Go Arizona!!). It’s because Easter is right around the corner! Over the next couple weeks we are going to take a look at some different aspects of the cross of Christ. This week we want to start out by looking at how we are to identify with Jesus.

th (3)The first thing we need to realize is that Christianity really has two crosses. The first cross is the one that billions around the world embrace. They wear it around their necks. It’s on the side of their church buildings,  and it’s hung up in their houses. I’m talking about the cross that Jesus died on for our sins! However, there is another cross in Christianity that many of those same billions are not willing to identify with; and that is our own personal cross. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Jesus has called us as His disciples to take up our own personal crosses and die daily!

“Well that seems strange. What does that mean?” Well, it means that if you are going to truly identify with Jesus then you need to die to self. You have a cross that’s tailor made for your death. This death is a spiritual death to the things of this world. Your ambitions, your desires, your will all need to daily and consistently be offered up to Jesus. This is the complete opposite of what you will hear in most “Christian” circles today. Most of what you will hear proclaimed today is a cross-less Christianity. It’s a message of coming down from the cross instead of getting up on it. It’s a message of ease, comfort, prosperity, and acceptance. Friends, I’m here to tell you that, that is not the message of the gospel! The fact of the matter is, the message of the gospel is DIE! Galatians 5:24 says, “They that are Christ’s are to crucify their flesh with the affections and lusts thereof.”

“This doesn’t sound like a lot of fun!” Christianity (despite what many will tell you) is not all fun and games. In fact crucifixion isth674WRFGK an ugly thing. Not only the pain and the affliction it will bring to your flesh, but a lot of times it’s a very lonely place to be. Sometimes you will feel like you’re the only guy out there. You will feel like all others have forsaken you. This cross will bring reproach, pain, and fear. But the good news Brothers and Sisters is that His grace is sufficient! We need to (as Moses did) esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of this world (Hebrews 11:26). We need to be able to glory and delight in the cross of our Lord Jesus!

Beloved, this isn’t a popular message today. In fact, if we are going to accurately identify with the cross, you and I are going to experience the reproach of Christ. Identifying with the cross will set you outside of accepted religious boundaries. It will even be a reproach to those who call themselves Christians. Why? Because they want us to compromise so that their compromise doesn’t look so carnal. They want to be able to say, “Everybody does it like this” when the fact of the matter is everybody does not! Thank God for the heroes of Hebrews chapter 11. Thank God for the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us that we can follow! Those whose faith we can imitate!

th65WVGJ11So what about you? Are you willing to be taken outside of the city as Jesus was and be crucified? Do you even see your need to be crucified, or do you think you’re ok? The truth is there won’t be a day in your life when your flesh will not need to be put under. Until you are crucified with Christ, you will never know the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10). Jesus, enduring the cross, despising the shame, is inviting you to identify with Him. It’s a lonely road. They are going to hate you because they hated him first John 15:18 says. But Jesus says, “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for His names sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad! For great is your reward in heaven (Matthew 5:11-12).” That’s what we are fighting for! That’s what’s worth dying for!! It’s not the things of this world, it’s the eternal things in our heavenly kingdom to come. So decide to take up your cross today and follow Him. The pain is worth the reward!

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