Mark 8:34 “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
I’ve heard a lot of interpretations of this scripture, and they all seem logical. For some reason, though, I began thinking about what God was saying to me with this scripture. It’s not the same thing for every person. I love that about God. He’s omnipotent, so that He can make one thing into a million different ones for a million different people.
The last interpretation I read about this scripture explained that taking up our cross meant to take up God’s will and follow Him. Really? That is probably true for at least the writer of that interpretation but it falls a little short of my understanding. For me to take up God’s will and follow Him means I have to know His will completely and I have had trouble determining between His intricate will for me and my own. Yes, I know His will for me in the most basic understanding is to fellowship with Him and devote the love in my heart to Him. But I don’t need to take that up (as if it were a cross to bear) because that’s supposed to be a part of my every day life. No, there is something for me to carry that might be a burden but I have control over ultimately.
I believe that is my will. My will can be extremely burdensome because I’m always thinking about things that would make me happy. Let’s be honest here, don’t we all tend to be pretty selfish when it comes to our happiness? It’s truly a fight to lay down our wants and desires to see how helping to meet the needs of others with our servanthood is really the key to our own happiness. That’s clearly why Jesus said to deny yourself.
In Matthew, He put it a little differently but still as powerful. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
The key is to lose your life. That means to lose our will and allow God’s will to take over. That’s the only way we can successfully follow Christ. We can’t have outward appearances implying that we are following Jesus while within our hearts we are focused on our own gain either in this world or in the next. Our hearts dictate where our love really is and we can never hide the true status of our hearts.
So here’s my question: knowing this information is good, but it won’t change the condition of our hearts, so how do we utterly and completely fall in love with God in order to be able to truly give up our own will and follow Him? My conclusion is that it can’t be planned but it must happen on a whim. There’s no other way to be willing to lose your life if not by a last minute decision out of pure love for Jesus. To be willing to give up everything that seems secure in this world because your security is completely wrapped up in your trust in God Almighty. Let that soak in a bit.