The Bare Soul - January 6, 2013
Choosing Our Cross

Matthew 16:24-25 - Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."

There are many "cross-bearers" in the world today. However, scripture tells us that many of these will be denied the heavenly prize and few instead will find it (Matthew 7:13-15). Some will bear their cross for a cause or a movement with no thought of God. These will reap what they sow, for God will not give a thought for them in the final outcome. While there are a plethora of noble "crosses" to bear in our sick world, the only one that truly matters is that of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we carry a cross to save the planet or to help dying AIDS children in Africa or to open an orphanage in Delhi and are not following Christ, it will mean nothing in regard to determining our eternal home. The best we can hope for are human accolades which are destined to perish one day along with this temporal earth.

The only cross we are to bear is the cross of Jesus Christ. The world will congratulate us if we carry another cross for a noble cause, and will diametrically hate us if we carry the cross of Jesus (John 15:18). The former smacks of humanistic endeavor and the ability of man to pull himself up by his proverbial bootstraps. The latter is a declaration of the total inability of mankind to save himself and our need of a Savior. Only when we come to Jesus are we able to come after Him as the scripture states. Denial of self will not then be a laborious chore, but instead an expression of love toward the One who gave us life. Denial of one thing without passion for another only results in disappointment. (Ask the addict who attempts to quit drugs with just determination.) If we first embrace Jesus by coming to Him, then coming after Him and bearing our own cross will seem the most natural thing. In reality, the expected will then become a supernatural empowering that will crucify our flesh daily as the aroma of Christ breaks forth in our souls.

Our only consideration when deciding who or what we will devote our lives to is what is to be gained or lost. Our decision should not be based on "wishing" as Jesus proclaimed, but instead it should be founded on the bedrock of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In order for a man or woman to move beyond the pipe dream of wishing, they must understand reality. The cross that many bear is superfluous or meaningless in the light of their eternal destiny. However, when the aforementioned give their lives to Jesus Christ, then the dynamic of hope fills their souls. And hope does not disappoint because of the love which Christ pours out within the soul of those who trusts in Him (Romans 5:5).

In this coming year, it is imperative we decide who or what we serve. Some might say, "I will serve none but myself and my family. I don't want any of this religious stuff." Of course the reality is that everyone is involved in this "religious stuff." Everyone worships in their own way. They either serve the god of self and human accomplishment, or they surrender to Jesus and come after Him, carrying their cross in joyous servitude. The former means eternal loss ... the latter equates to life eternal. Who will we trust to save our souls? If we trust in Jesus, may we all first deny ourselves and then take up our crosses and follow Him. There is salvation in no other manner!

Heavenly Father, the choice is before us all. Help us to choose to follow Your Son. Help us to decide that anything less than total devotion to Him is folly. Grant us eyes to see and ears to hear in order to come to Him and then to come after Him, bearing our cross. In our surrender comes true freedom. Thank you Lord for Your great plan. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,



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