You Must Deny Yourself And Take Up Your Cross

Mark 8:34 happens to be one of my favorite Bible verses.  This verse popped up at me before I was even a Christian while working on my adventure blog ‘The Adventurist”.  A few years ago I wrote an article about a man who decided to take this verse literally.  He built a large wooden cross and decided to carry it around the world.  He would walk with this life-sized cross and preach to those that would listen.  I am not sure that this was completely what was in mind when this verse was written, but God has still used this man to spread his word through the use of a single verse from the Bible.

This past week I put up an update on Facebook that simply said:

What does this mean?? “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34

This has lead to an in-depth study and discussion on this very intriguing verse.  We were all in agreement that “he must deny himself” means that we have to walk away from our own selfishness in order to follow Christ.  What does it mean to “take up his cross”?

Simply stated, the cross was a tool that the Romans used for suffering and humiliation.  Think about that.  Using only that reference, we are being told to suffer and be humiliated in order to follow Christ.

How can that be?  Why must we suffer to follow Christ?

I think this verse speaks very clearly of what a new Christian will encounter when they decide to actually follow a God-based life.  When we first came to Christ, many of us suffered the loss of friends, colleagues, and even family members because of our choice to grow closer to God.  We also suffered while turning away from our sins.  Many of these sins were ingrained in our minds.  Getting away from the sin can be very painful and emotional.  It also takes an active role to be a Christian and make those sacrifices for our Lord and Savior and do away with those sins.

Humiliation??

You bet!  A new Christian feels alive.  They want to share their experience with everyone around them.  What happens when we try to share this experience to friends that are not of the Faith?  My personal experience has shown me that it can be quite humiliating.  Suddenly everyone questions you.  “What?  You?  You are going to church?”  “How can you preach to me with the things that you have done in your own life?”  I have been made fun of, I have been called names, and I have been judged because of Christ and for Christ.  Many others have been maimed and even killed.

The funny thing is, after a few weeks, people will actually start to listen.  It may not be much at first, but they will.  If you talk about your faith, suddenly people will come up and tell you their problems, to pray for them, or talk to you about church.  Doors begin to open and people will and do treat you with a new respect.

Taking up your cross may be one of the hardest things you could ever do.  It is humiliating, degrading, and very often condescending on the mind.  To walk with Christ though, we have to be willing to put EVERYTHING on the line.  We can’t follow this world.  We must follow Christ.  That means everything about our old selves has to change.  Just know that each and every time someone of this world is judging you for Jesus, Jesus is judging you for Him.

 

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