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Have you ever struggled to follow Jesus Christ? Have you ever failed in your walk with God? I know I have before, and I am sure I probably will again.
There are times when it is not easy to follow Him. There are times when I have struggled with obedience and fully saying yes. Isn’t it supposed to be easy to follow Jesus though? Shouldn’t he always bless us, take care of us, and make all of our problems go away? Isn’t that part of His job description?
There are times we act as if the Christian faith should give us a pass on struggles and difficulties. Sometimes we even share the Gospel as if “trusting Christ” is a slick cure for all of our problems to go away. It sounds more like a sales pitch from a telemarketer than a biblical invitation to follow Jesus.
There are definitely benefits to knowing and following Jesus — He loves us, cares for us, forgives us, and gives us eternal life. He is always there for us. He doesn’t, however take away all of our problems.
I have found that following Jesus can create problems at times. Following Jesus will cause you to live by a set of convictions that can often be contrary to the ways of this world. There are times we can’t just go along with the crowd, and times where we must decide to follow the world instead of popular opinion. Jesus does not call us to win a popularity contest, but rather Jesus calls us to follow Him. If you signed up to follow Jesus hoping life will just become easy, I am sorry to tell you that you are following the wrong man. There are times it can be challenging to embrace the Son of God and his will for our lives. He is Lord though, and it will always be worth it.
Jesus promised blessing for sure, but he also said things like, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9: 23). “Anyone who cannot carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14: 27).
That doesn’t sound like an easy life does it? Jesus can offer us a great life, an abundant life but do not think it will be ice cream and cake all the time. We are called to take up our cross.
Some people speak about unpleasant situations or people in their life — like a bad job or bad mother-in-law — as their cross to bear. I am not sure that is what Jesus had in mind when he spoke of taking up our cross. Your mother in law, really?
When people heard of the cross, they thought about one thing — death. They knew the cross was a place where people were crucified unto death. The cross is an amazing symbol of love and hope in our day and time. Jesus transformed it though because in his day it was a symbol of death.
Jesus calls his followers to come and die to themselves, so they might embrace His life and his ways. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who stood against Hitler and the evils of Nazi Germany, said this: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Come and die. Come give your life. Give up your plans. Give up your dreams. Give up your rights, and surrender them all to God. Surrender them to the Lord who hung on Calvary’s cross for you. Become one with Christ and commit your life to Him. If we come and die though, Jesus promises we will find new life and abundant life in Him.
The cross demands our absolute obedience. This is what the cross meant for Jesus.
What about you? Are you willing to choose God’s will over your will above all else — even when it is hard? Christ followers are not to obey Jesus only when it is easy, or when it doesn’t make me look foolish or cramp my style, or get in the way of what I want. Following Jesus is not always easy, but it is always right. Will you follow? Jesus is calling you to come and walk in his footsteps. And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at [email protected] or 634-2960.
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