how do we make living for Christ a part of our daily routine? As Christians, we must follow Jesus every day, not just when we go to church. We can take practical steps to follow Him in everything that we do and reflect His goodness to others.
Our modern-day definition of following Jesus looks very different than it did two thousand years ago, especially in the western world. For many, we attend church occasionally for a motivational pep talk, open up the Bible even less, and serve at the local kitchen once a year, if we’re feeling generous. This is a far cry from the devotion Christians in the early church showed because, for them, it was a way of life. There was little middle ground or half-heartedness and where there was, it was often called out. Yet, we don’t live in such days; our world now very different from such modest times. So, how do we define what it looks like to follow Jesus? You might be surprised to learn that the definition hasn’t changed; to follow Jesus today looks the same as it did then.
“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’” Luke 9:23.
What does Jesus mean when He says that you should take up your cross daily?
To “take up your cross” is something that has to take place in your thoughts. When thoughts that aren’t pleasing to God come to your mind during the day, you “put them to death” on an inner “cross.”
A judging thought toward your friend crops up, for example, or perhaps a grumbling thought of dissatisfaction for what you have to do today. As these thoughts come up in your mind, you choose to deny them. Your mind stands guard at the door of your heart, and you get to decide what comes through. When a sinful thought pops up in your mind the first time, it is only a temptation – a “suggestion” from Satan. But you can choose to deny that thought access to your heart! In practice, that means that as soon as you become aware of the thought, you disagree with it. You don’t dwell on it. The thought meets a firm “no” in your mind. You don’t permit the thought to pass through your mind and come into your heart. Denying these sinful thoughts is how you take up your cross daily.