Read Luke 9:23-26.
You’ve heard the expression “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Despite what some “preachers” on TV are saying, following Jesus isn’t a free lunch either.
In today’s passage, Jesus says that His followers must “take up their cross.” His original hearers immediately would have known what He was talking about. The cross was a sign of death. Jesus was saying that following Him would cost us everything and that no area of one’s life was to be untouched by following Him. This calls for self-denial, willingly lay aside the things that we want in order to align our priorities with His. Isn’t this really what the present reality of the “kingdom of God” is? At this time, the kingdom of God is the rule and reign of Jesus in the hearts of people.
Jesus also said that His followers not only would take up their cross, but do so as a daily decision. It is not only a daily decision, but one that may need to take place twice a day (or more), or even hourly. Self-denial is a radical position in today’s self-centered culture.
Remember the upward and outward priorities of Jesus that we looked at last week? His upward priorities were the Word of God and prayer. Obedience to God, love, and investing in people were His outward priorities. I think that as we get these priorities into our lives, we can make real progress toward self-denial and the reality of the kingdom of God in our lives.