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Take Up Your Cross

By Doug Franklin March 16, 2020

Why Take Up Your Cross?

1) We take up his cross to participate in his suffering. 

2) We participate in his suffering to join in his resurrection. 

3) We join in his resurrection to enter into new life. 

Jesus’ time on earth was marked by a beautiful journey of serving others. He followed the words and will of his Father, and he ultimately suffered a terrible death on a cross. 

Yet most invitations to follow Jesus arrive gift-wrapped with a promise of love and a trouble-free, successful, and wonderful life. It would seem that Jesus’ true invitation has gotten lost along the way. 

Jesus carried his cross for us, and now he invites us to take up our crosses for him:

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’” – Mathew 16:24–25 (ESV) 

His invitation is to a life like his—a life of suffering. It’s not a great sales line, but then again, Jesus isn’t interested in selling you anything. He wants you to understand how much he loves you, and he wants you to know what he was willing to endure for your sake.  

  • If you choose to follow Jesus, you will begin to love God more than you love yourself. But because we live in a world that does not understand your devotion, you may suffer. 
  • If you choose to follow Jesus, you will follow his commands rather than the world’s. And when you live contrary to the values of the culture, you may suffer. 
  • If you choose to follow Jesus, you will become more generous with your time and your resources. There may be some individuals who will abuse your generosity, and you may suffer.  

Our suffering shouldn’t surprise us. It’s just as Jesus said it would be:

“‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.’” John 16:33 (ESV)

How to Take Up Your Cross –

If we decide to take up our crosses, it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Because many of us may struggle to picture what it looks like, here are four practical (yet difficult) ways to take up our crosses on a daily basis. 

1) Walk in Obedience

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.”  – 1 John 5:2 (ESV)

To take up our crosses, we must walk in obedience to God’s commands. A true disciple doesn’t  look at God’s Word and decide for themselves what they will and will not follow. The Bible calls this type of person foolish and double-minded.

Instead, wholehearted followers of Christ trust that God knows best, and they look to align every part of their lives with God’s standards. Like a train needs to stay on its track, we need to keep in step with God’s commands and directives. 

easter-lesson-accept-your-circumstances

2) Accept your circumstances

I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

When we face difficult circumstances, most of us have one of three responses: fight, flight, or faith. Either we argue with God, we run away from him, or we have faith that he is at work.

We take up our crosses when we believe that God sees us, knows our circumstances, and is working his best for us. We take up our crosses when we recognize that we live in a broken world and reject the lie that God is punishing us for our mistakes. And we take up our crosses when we care more about God’s glory than our own comfort. 

easter-lesson-pray-for-convictions

3) Pray for conviction

Search me, O God, and know my heart.”  Psalm 139:23 (NIV)

To take up our crosses, we should pray for conviction. God lovingly sanctifies us like a blacksmith patiently shaping a precious piece of metal. But first, he asks us to acknowledge our own shortcomings rather than avoid them. This step requires maturity and a willingness to allow Jesus to shape our lives. 

easter-lesson-die-to-self

4) Die to self 

Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

Dying to self is an act of taking up our crosses. We can live such that all of our life revolves around us, or we can put God at the center of everything. This process is ongoing, and we won’t finish it until God takes us home. 

By doing the first three steps of taking up our crosses, we allow God to become the King of our lives. In this last step, we attempt to put an end to our selfishness and give God complete control. 

My Challenge to you

This blog was challenging to write, but I believe it’s even harder to live out. Personally, I’m challenged to apply these principles as I move forward in my walk with Christ and take up my cross on a daily basis. 

I’m also motivated to share this message with the next generation. Please don’t neglect to share these truths with students. Teach them what it looks like to walk in obedience. Coach them to accept their circumstances, whatever they may be. Invite them to pray for conviction, and challenge them to die to self. Students will never experience life to the full if they aren’t taught how to take up their cross. They’ll simply remain at the starting line of their faith. 

I pray that you (and your students) are willing to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and take up your cross. For there we will all find love, life, and peace.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More