And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27).
Discipleship means accepting Christ as Savior and Lord. Following Jesus means that you are ready to undergo the same suffering that Christ did. Thus, we must be honest in the way in which we present our message. Certainly the glorious truths of righteousness by faith, Christ’s forgiveness, Jesus’ imminent return, heaven’s incomparable wonders, and God’s unmerited grace should be taught.
But should believers desire to proclaim God’s complete message, they cannot overlook cross-bearing. Sadly, some believers erroneously think that preaching any message whereby human beings are called into action is legalistic.
Divine grace has accomplished all, they proudly exclaim,
and the human race does nothing except receive it. Jesus, however, disagrees.
Before baptism, every candidate should understand that Christ Himself has assigned him or her a cross, without which they absolutely cannot become His disciple. Does this dampen the joy of conversion? Would unrealistically promising them carefree lives somehow increase this joy? Conversion releases believers from the burdens of sin, not from the responsibilities of discipleship. By taking the name of Christ and by publicly revealing that choice through baptism, every believer must be aware that discipleship comes with a cost. What, though, does this world offer that makes what Christ offers not worth it? Nothing.
When was the last time that you took up your cross? What was the experience like? What did you learn from it that could help someone else struggling with a similar challenge?