Every disciple – that is, every Christ-follower – is seeking to be like Jesus. We are seeking to go after Jesus in modelling His character and behaviour. To that end, Jesus said there are three things we need to do if we want to be Christlike, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.””
Jesus said we need to deny ourselves. That means that first of all, we forgive others. For we can’t hold something over others when Jesus holds nothing against us and claim to be taking after Him. Secondly, it means we need to limit our wants. We can’t be about attaining our own goals and our own wants. That is a hard thing to do, because we constantly mistake want for need. We say things like, “I NEED to buy that” or “I NEED the food I like”. But a sober second thought most often reveals we don’t really need those things. Or that particular relationship, or that kind of job or even to live where we do.
That such things are wants and not needs is evidenced by the fact that over seven billion people live their lives without those things. Following Jesus means going where He wants us to go, eating what is set before us and living mindfully so that as many resources as possible can go toward Jesus’ cause. As Paul said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” It is not always a comfortable life, but it is a rich life in Christ.
Jesus said we need to take up our cross. That means we need to willingly take on the burden of others, as Paul wrote, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” It means we care for those who don’t know how to care for themselves. It means we love to the utmost, even giving up matters of life to bless those we influence.
It means we don’t just shrug when we come across a person in need. Far more than denying ourselves, taking up our cross is sacrificing ourselves so that the Kingdom of God can be experienced by others. As the book of Romans encourages us, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”
Jesus said we need to follow Him. That means recognizing that Jesus left the highest heaven to live in poverty for our sake. To follow Him – to take after Him – means fully obeying Him, even when He says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
It means crossing whatever boundary we come across for the Gospel’s sake. It means overcoming our fear of other people and other cultures so that they too can have what we have in Christ. After all, Jesus ministered to Romans, Syrians, Greeks and Jews. He ministered to the poor, the leperous, diseased and possessed.
We must do likewise. We cannot help but do likewise, for we are His disciples if His Spirit lives within us we will do likewise. Amen.
Many people want God to rain down blessing on them, but they don’t want to surrender their will to him in obedience. They aren’t willing to think and act like Jesus.Nelson Searcy
Are you willing to act like Jesus?