“Then He said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.’” Luke 9:23
Christianity is more than believing in Jesus. Did you know that? Yes, the Christian life starts with belief; but it is not intended to stop there. All too often, however, it does. True Christianity is moving beyond belief to the beauty of a cross-shaped life. What, you may be wondering, is a cross-shaped life? In order to truly understand the answer, we must understand the purpose of a cross.
Christians of many different denominations have the cross as a central symbol of our faith. We wear cross necklaces, bracelets, t-shirts, and have pictures of crosses hanging in our churches, homes, and offices. The image of the cross reminds us of the hope we have in Jesus because of His sacrifice on our behalf. Please understand, there is nothing wrong with any of this. However, we must not let the familiarity of the cross cause us to forget the reality of its use.
The cross was an instrument of death. One might liken it to a modern-day electric chair or lethal injection device. The cross was used to punish, torture, and kill the vilest of criminals. And yet in Luke 14:27 Jesus said, “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.” Think about what Jesus is saying here. Whoever is not willing to pick up and carry their own instrument of death cannot be His follower…His disciple. The cross-shaped life means marching willingly into death. It means dying to self, to old plans and ideas, to comfort and safety and, perhaps, to life as we know it. It is dying to everything except Jesus. But – and this is the key to a cross-shaped life – it is in this self-death that true life is found.
You see, we have not been put here, nor left here, to make money. Our purpose is not to make friends, make noise, make progress, or even to make plans. We have been put here to glorify Christ – to show others the Way to life. This is why the Church is here. This is why, as followers of Christ, you and I are here. The cross-shaped life is a life beyond belief.
Dear Lord, thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Help me to not just live a life of belief in you, but a life of serving you. May my life be a cross-shaped life that points others to you. Amen.