Understand the cost of being a Christian
“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)
Before people commit themselves to something, they often evaluate the cost and commitment that will be required of them. In the verse above, Jesus helps people to understand the cost and commitment required to follow him.
“Take up your cross” is a phrase often misconstrued and misunderstood. Carrying “a cross” does not mean every burden or every difficulty that we might face in life, such as health challenges, financial problems, or general trouble in the world.
“Take up your cross” means anything that I might have to endure for being a Christian. Have you ever been excluded by family members or friends because you lived your Christian faith? Were you ever mocked or made fun of because you chose to do what God asks of you rather than following the crowd? The ultimate end of “taking up your cross” is facing physical pain or death for your Christian faith. I doubt that any of us has experienced that, but almost every single day (not always reported), Christians around the world are being executed for their faith.
I don’t know about you, but every time I read about one of those executions of fellow Christians, I ask myself if I would be willing to put my life on the line for my faith.
If you reread the verse above, notice what Jesus says about us if we are not willing to carry such a cross: “is not worthy of me.” Wow! Think about that. Jesus says that if we are not willing to carry the cross of giving up our lives or any other cross, we are not worthy to be called his child. Talk about commitment!
Is that what you committed to when becoming a Christian? Did you commit only to following Jesus when it was easy and to gaining the peace and strength that he alone can give? Or did you also commit to signing up for whatever people might do to you, like they did to Jesus and other followers of his? Think of Stephen (Acts 7:5-60), who confidently put his life in God’s hands as he was being stoned to death for being a Christian. He didn’t shrink back or try to run away. Instead, he faithfully acknowledged Jesus as his Savior until he drew his last breath.
One other thing we need to remember about our Savior’s words above: The very one who says those words also promises to give us the courage and strength to do what he asks us to do. Know that God will not only give you peace and hope but also the strength and courage to live your life in a way that is worthy of the faith you profess!
Prayer: Heavenly Father – thank you for calling me to faith in Jesus as my Savior and for making me your child! Forgive me for the times that I have not lived or that I have hidden my faith because I was embarrassed or afraid of what might happen to me. Reassure me that you are with me! Give me the strength and the conviction of Stephen to be willing to suffer anything, even death, instead of giving up my faith. Reassure me that you have prepared a place for me in heaven, which is my ultimate goal. I humbly ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen.