A Moment with the Bible
Those who desire to follow Christ often have discussions on what is necessary for salvation. Questions like, “What is involved in repentance?” or “Is baptism necessary?” are typically part of the exchange. We all are rightly interested in the specifics of what the Lord requires of us in order to have our sins forgiven. But rarely do the requirements of this text come into view. A person who does not take up his cross and follow Christ is not worthy of Him, and a person who tries to “find” or “save” his life will lose it. These may be more generic statements, but they are more important than a discussion on the specifics of salvation. When these statements are understood, all other parts of the salvation process will fall into place.
The “cross” is a symbol of death, not just any death, but a painful, agonizing execution. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I that live…” (Gal. 2:20). In other words our life is no longer our own. We live it for Him and we crucify any part of our life that conflicts with that mission. There are times when I do not want to pray, study my Bible, or worship. There are times when I do not want to love my neighbor as myself or try to share the gospel with someone who is lost. Those are the times I must take up the cross. Those are the times when my own desires must be crucified.
The words, “follow after Me” should not be taken lightly. Our whole goal is to become like Jesus. We are to imitate Him; follow His pattern of life. If we expect to live in heaven with the Lord, we must live like Him now. It is foolish and unscriptural to believe that we can live a sinful, fleshly life now and expect God to clean all of that up in heaven. No, His expectation is that we use our time here on this earth to grow to be like Him. We are to be a prepared people for a prepared place. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus expressed this principle clearly: “Therefore be perfect [complete] even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”