by Bridget Sileo
“Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
Many of us have heard this scripture before. This is what Jesus requires of those who follow him: 1) Give up your own way; 2) Take up your cross daily; 3) Follow Me. Giving up our own ways, while uncomfortable, seems reasonable. We all learn the importance of sharing early in life. We want to follow Jesus, so we give up our own way and put others first. Okay.
Second, we take up our cross? What does that mean? In Jesus’ day the cross was known by everyone to be a place where people died. Not only that – a place where criminals died. Taking up a cross means accepting death. Whether this is a physical death or a death to your own desires, we must be willing to accept that if we choose to follow Christ, we are dead, and dead people don’t think for themselves.
The last thing Jesus tells us is to literally follow Him – to do what he did.
These three things are all linked together. Following Jesus completely means being willing to die physically or to put aside your own desires, in other words, giving up your own way.
There is a missionary movement in the Middle East called the Live Dead Initiative. This movement sends missionaries into such dangerous areas (places where Christians are killed) that their names are scrubbed from the internet and they live as if they are already dead and have nothing to lose.
Even though we don’t live in an area like that, the requirement that Jesus gives for following him remain the same – live dead.