E09: What it means to take up your cross daily
PODCAST: Jesus said: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily …” How can we do this?
Taking up your cross happens on the inside. It may sound heavy and difficult, but it’s actually the best thing you can do for yourself and those around you! Listen to this podcast episode for more on what it means to take up your cross in practical, daily life, and the amazing results it leads to!
Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 9: What it means to take up your cross daily
This is ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we explore the different aspects of the gospel according to the Bible, and how we can put it into practice in daily life.
Milenko: Welcome to Episode 9 of Living the Gospel. I’m Milenko …
Eunice: And I’m Eunice. Hey Milenko, last week I was in Vancouver, Canada. And me and Kathy were recording a podcast episode about righteousness. And it is about the benefits of righteousness, why a young person should care about righteousness. It was actually super inspiring and I’m really excited about this podcast episode coming out, soon. And we also filmed it. So, a lot to look forward to.
Milenko: Oh, wow that sounds really good. But what are we going to talk about today?
Eunice: Today we are going to talk about a very important topic, the cross. Actually, that topic could be pretty broad. So, what exactly are we talking about?
Milenko: Well, specifically we are talking about Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23, where He says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
Eunice: So, those are the requirements to be Jesus’s disciple. Jesus said this long before He was crucified on Calvary, right? But He didn’t mean that His disciples should take up a physical cross then?
Milenko: No, I think that’s pretty obvious. So, it is a metaphor or a picture of what’s happening inside us in our own lives, if we want to follow Jesus. And it’s necessary for a disciple to take up his cross, if he wants to come to the life of Jesus.
Eunice: I think sometimes we can hear people talking about taking up their cross like something they have to be willing to suffer to follow Jesus, something they have to kind of bear, something maybe like being rejected by their family for being a Christian or something like that. Do you think it’s right to say it like that?
Milenko: Well it isn’t what you’d normally associate with suffering, I think. People use this expression “everyone has a cross to bear,” and if that would mean that everyone who suffers hardship is a disciple of Jesus, that would mean just about everyone in the world was a disciple, and we know that’s obviously not the case. So, Jesus does mean something else and He talks about that in Luke 14:26-27. One of the things He says there is that you have to hate your own life. And I think that’s the key, because “our own life” that means something that’s alive in us. There’s egotism, wanting to serve our own lusts that are in opposition to God. And He says that’s what you have to hate. So, it’s basically denying yourself.
Eunice: But I think everyone kind of probably understands denying themselves. Like, if I’m on a diet, I deny myself sugar foods, things like that, and I don’t just say anything that comes to my mind to my boss, because I know the result of that, things like that. But then how is taking up your cross and hating your own life different from denying yourself?
Milenko: Well what we’re taking about is “my own life,” that is what I can feel working in me; it tempts me to say and do things that are against God’s will. There are a lot of different things; we all know what temptation is. Things that comes from my flesh – lust and desires, Paul calls them.
And the thing is, denying myself isn’t just squashing them or pushing them away, but it’s something more. Jesus uses the word “cross” and the cross was in those days what they used to execute criminals. It was a method of putting something to death. So, what He’s talking about is that those lusts actually have to die. And it’s not just the outward things, the results of living according to my lusts that I have to hate. Not just the words I say or the actions I do, but it is the actual root of sin, the lust itself. I have to hate that, and I have to deny that that is what I really want to do. It’s not me; that’s not what I want to do. It’s my flesh. I want to serve God!
So, denying that and putting that to death, that’s the key and that’s an affirmation of, “Yes! I want to serve God. I’m doing His will and I’m not going to do my will!” It is a suffering, because I feel those lusts inside me, and I have to say “No” to them. “No, I am not going to do that.” But by doing that then I am following Jesus. Then I’m going the way that He went, and I will come there as well.
Eunice: So, in a way then “denying myself” and “taking up my cross” kind of hangs together, but the “taking up my cross” bit is when it actually dies.
Milenko: Right. You have to say “No,” and then you continue doing that until it lets go and it dies. That’s what it’s about.
Eunice: And that’s like the picture of the cross – hanging there and then eventually it dies.
Milenko: Right, that’s exactly the picture that Jesus wanted to use that everyone in His time would have understood. They saw these crucifixions – they were in public places, so they knew what was happening. So, when He says, “take up your cross,” they understood that picture.
Eunice: The article that we’re going to be listening to today is, “What does it mean to take up your cross daily?” It explains the cross in very down-to-earth terms. It says that taking up your cross is the same as saying “No!” to thoughts that aren’t pleasing to God that come to your mind.
Milenko: Yes, and that’s exactly where it does begin; it’s in your thoughts. That’s where you notice these lusts.
Eunice: But I think sometimes when we think about saying “No” and “No” and “No” again to things that are from our flesh which honestly, we might actually kind of want to do, especially when we’re just starting out … I remember when I was quite a bit younger, that it can sometimes seem kind of formidable, something hard, something difficult. So, what should be our motivation as young people to take up our cross?
Milenko: Yeah, and I mean it is denying yourself, it is saying no, so it is difficult. It is a battle. That’s what the New Testament talks about, battle and suffering and so on. But when we think about what it really means … The sin that’s in us that causes so must wretchedness; it really causes misery. Living according to those lusts is pure egotism, serving myself, and it causes separation between me and others. It causes problems. That’s where you get quarrelling from, and fighting, and you also get the lusts that are never satisfied. So you aren’t satisfied. It’s a terrible life. To begin with, it looks like it’s something you want; it’s something that’s attractive, but if you follow it through, the result is never nice.
So, the benefits of it are that you get rid of those lusts bit by bit, as you deny yourself and take up your cross every single day. You do that and you come more and more into a life where you serve God and it’s a life of satisfaction, it’s a good life, it’s a happy life. You get good relationships to other people. Where you wanted to say good things, but your own nature stopped you. You can learn to become a good person and it’s such a satisfying life to have to deal with God and knowing that you are living according to His will.
Eunice: It just made me think of that picture about the narrow way and the broad way. The narrow way is the way that leads to life, but it obviously seems hard at first, but it’s what leads to eternal life.
Milenko: Yes, exactly that is the same thing. A different picture of the same thing.
Eunice: I think we can listen to the article now. This article is written by Lauren Weatherall. And she actually also reads it here. I know her personally, and I can say that this is the life that she lives.
(Click to read:)
What does it mean to take up your cross daily?
Eunice: It’s so practical. It’s just about saying, “No!” And every day as we’re taking up our cross then we’re getting transformed.
Milenko: Yes, and as we heard from Lauren here, it’s so hopeful. There’s really a lot we can say about this topic, about the cross. It is actually the core of Christianity.
Eunice: It’s life, it’s real life as a disciple. It says to take up your cross daily, and I think a day when I’m not conscious to take up my cross is probably going to be a hard day not least for those around me. Even so, I do and say things that I regret after, things that I wasn’t aware of at that time. So, it’s all the more necessary for me to take up my cross and put to death the sin that I am conscious of.
Milenko: Yeah and that is another topic for another day, about Romans 7, doing the things we don’t want to do. But that’s all we have prepared for today. Thank you for listening, and if you’re interested in contacting us, you can make use of the Contact Form on our website.
Eunice: Or you can write to us on any of our social media platforms. We love to hear from you.
Milenko: We sure do. So, bye for now.