Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 NLT
In Jesus’ time and place, when people picked up their cross, it was to die, just like Jesus picked up His cross to die. Jesus said this must be done every day. (Luke 9:23) Years later He told the Church of Smyrna
But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10 NLT
I have to wonder if people fully grasp what Jesus meant by, “take up your cross daily” and “remain faithful even when facing death.” I fear I live in an age with a very shallow concept of faithfulness. Athletes change teams as easily as changing underwear. People promise at the altar to love until death, but disappear when the next flirt comes along. Today’s employers don’t even want faithful long-term employees, because they don’t want to pay anyone enough to be faithful to their company.
I fear we live in an age where everything is supposed to be convenient. Suffering long simply means waiting a couple seconds for a webpage to download. When was the last time you heard baptismal vows read before a baptism? How many know what baptismal vows are? It’s easy to be faithful when there is no standard to be faithful to. God said, “Let us create man in our own image,” but for the last six thousand years, we have been saying, “No! Let’s create God in our own image.” It’s easier to be faithful when we are the ones who make the rules.
Recently, while reading The Great Controversy, I understood the importance of everyone worshiping according to their own convictions. But how many times do we call it conviction when it is actually personal taste? There is a difference between following your personal convictions, and just following your personal desires.
Occasionally, I get a call from someone telling me they were sorry they missed church, but they had a really hard week. What I don’t tell them is that millions who also had a really hard week attended church that weekend.
Families will tell me it’s hard to get out to midweek service, with school and homework and all. Really? Did school and homework just begin around 2014? Millions of folks have been attending midweek services for ages now, and I am quite sure they had kids in school too. Homework is nothing new.
Yet in an age of shallow faithfulness and outright selfishness, John sees that God has produced a special people like no other people before.
They have kept themselves as pure as virgins, following the Lamb wherever he goes. Revelation 14:4 NLT
The Lamb went to the cross and gave up His life. Am I right in assuming this is included in “Following the Lamb wherever He goes?”
Now, while I’m whining about people not understanding what it means to be faithful, there are people dying for their faith around the world in the face of terrorism. While I look around and question if others are living up to their conscience and convictions, God is tapping my shoulder and telling me, “Why are you so worried about everyone else? William, you are not exactly the best Christian I have on earth right now. Not even close. I have seven thousand who have never bowed the knee to Baal, and to be honest, William, you are not one of them! Why don’t you pray for yourself while praying for everyone else?”
There are people in every church from Adventist to Catholic, and every church in between who know what it means to take up their cross and be faithful, even in the face of death. And here I am sitting in my cozy house on my nice comfy chair with my laptop just typing about it. What a wimp I am! And to think I’m the one wondering if everyone else knows what it means to be faithful! I think I still have a few things to learn about sacrifice and faithfulness. How about you?