“And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.'” (Luke 9:23)
I believe that every Christian should read The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is truly a classic! In this book, Bonhoeffer writes, “When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.” In another place in the book he writes, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
It seems to me that too many Christians today want what I call “velvet crosses.” Those are crosses that are pretty to look at and not too difficult to bear. But crosses are not made out of velvet. They are made of wood. Bonhoeffer’s comments and my personal experience remind me that true discipleship requires us to renounce the world and take up the cross. Regardless of what the world does or says, we must stand firm on the Word of God and NEVER COMPROMISE that Word.
Dr. Arthur T. Pierson, commenting on our verse for today (Luke 9:23) wrote, “The word ‘cross’ in the Scriptures never occurs in the plural! There is but one cross. It is that of self-denial. To Christ it means His sacrificial death to save others. The believer who takes up his cross and follows the Master must manifest a similar spirit of self-abnegation. Multitudes go to church and call themselves Christians; yet their lives are essentially wordily. They freely spend a thousand times more on self-indulgent activities than they grudgingly give to God.”
Dr. Pierson’s take on that verse is quite interesting. In our world, most folks equate cross-bearing with the suffering that we bear through some pain or hurt in life. Some people think that having to deal with a cantankerous mother-in-law is nothing more than “my cross to bear.” Nothing could be farther from the truth! Bearing the cross of Christ means that we accept the reproach of Christ and we crucify ourselves. Now we are back to costly discipleship as described by Bonhoeffer.
To be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, I must be willing to suffer reproach for His name, no matter how much social stigma that may cause. Our service to God is not about our pleasure, but His glory! It is not about ME getting what I want, it is about my being dedicated to HIM. In our efforts to evangelize the world, we must NEVER compromise the truth of the Gospel for the sake of acceptance by the world.
Because of our acceptance of the idea that all people possess some measure of truth and all people’s opinions are equally true, we are making it impossible to make law in this nation based on morality. The immoral have been allowed to define morality and when that happens, the immoral becomes moral. I can only imagine that our founding fathers are doing backflips in their graves today!
Isaiah 5:20-21 says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own opinion and clever in their own sight.” That describes our world today — including many who consider themselves Christians! We are wise in our own opinions and clever in our own sight. We have substituted the old rugged cross for a velvet cross that is much more tolerable.
God have mercy upon us.
Hope you have a blessed day.