Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me…What???

Posted: April 3, 2013 in build up, Christ, Community, compassion, Disciple, Discipleship, Family, Focus, great commission, Jesus, Mentor, mentoring, Relational
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Have you ever heard someone say to “take up your cross” or have you read the scriptures when it says to take up your cross and follow Jesus?  I think this has become a part of Christian lingo that has lost much of its meaning.  When people say this, I feel they are really saying that they are putting aside some of their wants and desires and are going to follow Jesus to the best of their ability.  However, that is a pretty puny approach to what Jesus was really saying!

Mark 8:34 – And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Jesusfollowtheleader

So what did Jesus mean by this command to take up our cross?

First, taking up our cross means we must deny ourselves – or to put it another way, stop being selfish!  We deny ourselves the temporary pleasures for eternal rewards.  We deny our worldly desires and the temptations of our sinful nature and focus on living our lives for Christ in all we do, say and think!  We deny the pleasures of playing a round of golf or going to the mall for an afternoon with family or a friend far from God.  We spend time in His Word seeking to become more like His Son instead of spending hours in front of the TV.  We renew our mind on the Truth of God’s Word and He slowly transforms us into the image of His Son (See Romans 12:1-2).

Second, taking up our cross involves action.  Anything worth striving for is worth working to obtain.  The abundant life of Christ is no different.  Sure the gift of salvation is a free gift we cannot obtain by working for it, however, once we have accepted that gift we then are new creations that must make Jesus our Lord…and with Him as Lord, our entire lives belong to Him and His Kingdom glory, and our actions should reflect that transformation in our lives!  We must be willing to suffer the temporal effects of work and toil to obtain the eternal gain of life with Jesus!  Jesus commissioned us all to go make disciples (MT 28:18-20); so if you are not sure what to do, start with building relationships and keeping your focus on Jesus!  This is the beginning of relational discipleship.

Lastly, taking up our cross means we die to our selves!  Every day we must choose to follow Jesus and strive for His character and integrity to be played out in our lives…in everything we do, say and think.  We do this by taking our everyday circumstances in life (good and bad) and use them to become more like Jesus.  If we are insulted, we die to our pride or ego.  If we don’t get what we want, we die to our selfish desires.  When we sin, we must choose to die to sin.  We do not belong to ourselves any longer…we are His!

We must deny our sinful desires, take up our cross (work out our purpose and actions), and follow Jesus in everything we think, say and do!  This is what it means to be a Christ-follower!

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  1. […] Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me…What??? (relationaldiscipleship.wordpress.com) […]

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  2. Which is the most important?
    Jesus was asked twice, by two different men, the same basic question about which is the most important or greatest commandment in the Law. Here is how Jesus answered that question:

    #1
    “One of the teachers of the law… asked him [Jesus],
    ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]

    #2
    …an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

    But in contrast with Jesus, Paul the Pharisee didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
    “The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]

    And again, Paul wrote:
    “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]

    Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
    .1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
    .2) second, love people.
    Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.

    This is very similar to The Beatles- “All you need is love. Love is all you need. Love, Love, Love.” (In other words, the second commandment, the love of man, without the love of God. Love as me, myself and I define love to be, and continuously redefined by sinful men.)

    In essence, it is also the same principle as what Eve did in the Garden of Eden, forgetting about the Tree of Life, which is the first tree in the middle of the Garden, and instead referring to the second tree as “the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” [Genesis 3:3 & 2:9 2:17, 3:24]

    Kind of like the Pharisees with Jesus, who were pushing the false idea that we can consider ONE commandment in the Law, alone in isolation, to be “the greatest commandment in the Law.”

    Or like today, false teachers in the Chrislam – Purpose Driven – Seeker Sensitive – Emergent – Liberal – Ecumenical – New Age – world church movement pushing the false idea that the ONE RULE is “Loving God and Neighbor together.”

    The Lord God Jesus the Jewish Messiah, Son of Yahweh the Most High God of Israel, said:
    “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.”
    Not one. TWO.

    Sometimes, Paul was wrong. Jesus is always right. I’m following Jesus.

    Here are answers to 2 common objections:
    .a) What about the so-called “Golden Rule”?
    Jesus spoke the 3 chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, including 7:12. Jesus didn’t make PART of this one verse out of context into “The Golden Rule” or “one rule.” Jesus did not use the term “Golden Rule,” it’s simply a tradition of men. The sentence begins with “So” in the NIV and Amplified Bibles, and “Therefore’ in the NASB and King James Bibles, which ties 7:12 to the previous sentences. So 7:12 cannot stand alone as One Commandment.

    .b) What about the so-called “Great Commission”?
    Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, including “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus never used the term “Great Commission,” it’s simply a tradition of men. Yes I agree it’s a commandment given by Jesus, it’s not optional, and it applies to us today. We need to carry this out, with our own God-given abilities and talents, using the skills, and circumstances we have. But we don’t need to put words in the mouth of Jesus, we can let Jesus speak for himself, and we can listen to Him – and obey Him.

    Evangelism is part of the Second Commandment given by Jesus, to Love people. Evangelism is not the most important commandment, and it isn’t the entire Second Commandment. So if our priorities are “The Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” we have our priorities upside down and confused, and we are not listening to the voice of Jesus. Never mind what Paul said. Let’s listen to the voice of Jesus first, and get our priorities straight.

    The people who will protest most loudly against this truth are the modern “Pauls:” traveling evangelists, speakers, writers, abusive absentee mega-church pastors, Crusaders, and self-appointed “apostles” like Paul, who find it “profitable” to “be like Paul” rather than follow Jesus the Jewish Messiah.

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    • Rob Boyland says:

      Looks like God has given you the passion for studying and writing as well my friend! Thanks for the comment.

      A couple things I’ll add:

      For the believer, it is impossible to love God and not love people. That is the reason they are intertwined. Paul was simply stating to the Galatian church (those claiming to love God) that their focus needed to be on loving and serving people far from God. When our hearts are aligned with God, we will love people where they are and the Holy Spirit will do His thing in drawing them into relationship with Him.

      Yes, we have dubbed Mt 28:18-30 as the Great Commission, but that is exactly what it is…I personally like the term making disciples, which Jesus did say, but I do not parse words based on what I like best. I also use the term Relational Discipleship because the term Discipleship has been misused and misapplied for far too long by the church, and the idea of Relational Discipleship draws the fact that making disciples requires us to reach out and build relationships…yet this term is not found in scripture.

      Paul states clearly that he is the chief of all sinners, so yes he made mistakes. However, I do not believe his mistakes were recorded in scripture. Taken out of context many of his, Jesus, prophets, etc. can be taken in the wrong direction…kept in the context of the location, people who were being addressed, and the time, we can clearly see that Paul (and many other authors) were not stating anything contrary to Jesus, they were applying it to those in whom they were speaking!

      Thanks for the comment…I love communicating with people who make me think and obviously think a lot about the life of a follower of Christ!

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