And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
– Mark 8:34-37
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
– Luke 9:23
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
– Matthew 10:38
…viewing “The Passion of the Christ” is powerfully rekindling many believers’ appreciation for what Jesus endured for their sakes.
Question: Will this roaring fire of gratitude for Christ’s suffering and death on the cross also rekindle – or ignite for the first time – a fire in the belly of believers for “taking up the cross” themselves?
What about it? Is it enough to immerse our minds and souls and emotions in the graphic realization of Christ’s immense suffering on our behalf? Or are we going to go the distance, finish the race, and fulfill Jesus’ direct and repeated instruction that each of us “take up his cross daily”? …
But you see, there’s something really wrong with today’s Christianity. Over 80 percent of Americans consider themselves Christians, but our country’s government, laws, culture and institutions, from its education system to it is entertainment industry – are increasingly and overtly hostile to Christianity. Even Christian families all too often are falling apart. Believe it or not, the divorce rate among Christians is higher than that of unbelievers, according to respected Christian pollster George Barna. Clearly, we’re missing something big.
So, can you handle a little tough love? Here it is: Just continually telling each other about Jesus’ death and resurrection is not enough. It’s not what He taught. Jesus didn’t say, “Just talk about me and you’ll be saved.” Rather, He said: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) And “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15:10) And “… he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13 KJV)