“Personal investment increases the value of a thing.” – Dr. D’Ann Johnson
In Christianity today we often tell people what they are going to get, instead of what it’s going to cost. And ultimately we offer a watered-down version of Christianity.
This is the turning point in Jesus’ ministry. This is the first time that Jesus explicitly teaches about His divine purpose, His life, and the work of His resurrection.
Key Verse: Matthew 16:24 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
Do I even desire to follow Christ?
Before we begin, we must determine if we have a desire to follow Christ. Now if I am a believer in Christ, yet I don’t have a desire to follow Him, I must examine myself.
Self-Denial is my ability to set limits on what I can have. I’m in control. I’m determining what I will do within the boundaries of my “rights”. However, denying self is yielding to Christ’s control so completely that self has no rights.
- Renouncing Self-Dependence: Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
- Abandoning Selfish Pursuits: Philippians 3:8 – Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
- Surrendering Our Will To God’s Will: Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Take Up Our Cross
Taking up your cross is more than enduring an irritating burden. It’s embracing the conditions that God has appointed for allowed and to bear those troubles and difficulties that you might encounter living the Christian life.
Even Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have tribulations, but I have overcome the world.”
“There was nothing noble or pretty about being crucified on the cross.” – Dr. D’Ann Johnson
In other words, taking up our cross means to publicly demonstrate that you have died to sin, to self, and to the world.
1 Peter 4:1-2 – Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
This “follow” is a deliberate choice to walk in the life, nature, and character of Christ. Simply watch what Christ does and imitate Him.
Ephesians 5:1 – Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
“The power of Christianity is not in our gifts, or abilities, or knowledge, but [is in] our willingness to deny ourselves, take up our own cross, and follow Him.” – Dr. D’Ann Johnson