Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. ~Matthew 16:24 (NKJV)
I am seeing an alarming trend these days. People are following other people, or churches, governments, etc,. This should not be. Jesus was clear, we are to deny ourselves and follow Him. Him and Him alone. Every person should follow Jesus for He alone can save us!
Not just in unbelievers
Following anyone or anything else will lead us astray. The sad part is that this trend is not just in unbelievers, but I also see this among believers. Some people want to follow one Pastor or the other, but they do not use caution and they become more about pleasing the pastor and less about following Gods commands. This was also a problem in the bible where people want to follow this teacher or that instead of just staying true to Jesus. (1 Cor 1:10-17)
This narrow path requires that we remain intentional and that we keep our eyes on Jesus. There is no one else who can save us. Even our leaders have to maintain focus on Jesus.
I know that for me it requires being intentional about laying it all at his feet and looking to Him for guidance. I can’t do it alone. At the same time it is not just a passive thing we must also take action.
Carrying the Cross
The bible says we must pick up our cross and follow Him. The cross is not pleasant. It is a torturous and humiliating death. If Jesus asks us to take up our cross, and we know what His was, then why do we think ours should be easier?
He never said it would be easy. We have to die to ourselves. Most of us know that death is not guaranteed to be painless. Well neither is dying to ourselves. It will hurt as we learn to give up bad habits and patterns of relating.
See if you refuse to deny yourself and take up the cross, then it will be impossible to fully follow Jesus. We can feed the flesh or the spirit, but it is impossible to feed both equally because the spirit is at war with the flesh. To please God we must die to the flesh so that we can walk in the spirit.
Maybe this sounds too hard or even impossible to you, but the Word says that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Nothing is impossible with Christ.