“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2 NKJV).
It is a mere self delusion for any believer to seek to follow Christ and to experience a daily victorious Christian life without taking up his cross daily. The cross is not something to bear or experience once in a lifetime or occasionally, but daily or constantly (Luke 9:23).
Whenever you shun or evade the cross, you cease to follow Christ and to experience victory in your Christian life!
In the first part of this piece we began to examine what the Scripture teaches about the right cross to take up daily and what it implies to take up the cross daily.
Let us briefly recap the main points.
First, the cross is your daily choice to voluntarily obey and follow the Lord Jesus notwithstanding the cost. Whatever is forced upon you is not your cross!
Second, the cross is a life of daily submission to God’s plan, process, will and way. Taking up your cross implies your willingness to embrace with joy whatever comes out of your complete submission or obedience to the Lord and out of your pursuit of the ministry you have received from the Lord (Acts 20:22-24).
Third, the cross is the altar of sacrifice. Bearing the cross implies willingness to give up all, even your physical life, if need be, for the sake of Christ.
Fourth, the cross is a symbol, mark, or evidence of death. But much more than this, the cross is also an instrument of death. Our self-life (old man) was terminated through the cross (Rom. 6:6). The cross is also the divine means or instrument for releasing Christ-life in our mortal body (2 Cor. 4:11, Gal. 2:20).
Let us now proceed further in discovering from the Scripture the right cross the believers should bear or take up daily in order to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
Fifth, the cross is an identity:
While the Lord Jesus does not expect you to bear or wear daily a physical cross as an ornament, yet the cross is symbolic of public identification with Christ.
Bearing the cross implies not being ashamed of Christ before anybody at any place or anytime. It is being a faithful witness and ambassador for Christ in the world.
Taking up your cross daily implies readiness to propagate, promote, defend and contend for the teachings, values, principles, or ways of Christ notwithstanding the threat to your life or the persecution you may face.
In spite of the threat to their lives, yet the early Disciples of Christ publicly identified with Christ, proclaiming His Lordship and propagating His teachings (Acts 4:1-21, 5:26-42).
Although Nicodemus believed in the Lord Jesus, yet he could not be an ardent follower or a disciple of Christ because he was unwilling to take up his cross by identifying publicly and openly with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nicodemus, being a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus in the night to relate with Him because he was ashamed or afraid of being associated, identified or seen with Jesus by his friends, colleagues, or relations (John 3:1-8, 7:50).
If you are also ashamed or afraid of identifying publicly and openly with Jesus Christ and His gospel anywhere, any day, or before anybody, then you are not yet ready to be His disciple.
Taking up your cross daily is a mark of identity with Christ. It shows to the world that you are truly committed to Christ and His teachings!
Sixth, the cross is a mindset:
The American Heritage Dictionary defines “mindset” as “a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations; a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations; an inclination or a habit.”
In other words, you only see, interpret, and respond to situations and people based on the state of your mind.
Jesus Christ came into the world with a mindset to serve and not to be served, and to give His life as a sacrifice for our sins.
That is why Jesus said to His disciples, “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave– “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:27-28 NKJV).
You cannot be a disciple of Christ without having the same mindset or mental attitude that Christ possessed.
Although Jesus Christ was God in every respect, yet He did not reckon His equality with God as something to hold unto firmly. But, He emptied Himself of His glory as God and took on the nature or form of a servant in order to save us.
This is the mindset expected of anyone who desires to be a disciple of Christ!
You cannot follow the Lord Jesus Christ daily if you don’t set your mind as He set His own mind, or possess the same mental disposition or attitude as His.
Paul admonishes us in Philippians 2:5-8:
5 Let the same disposition be in you which was in Christ Jesus.
6 Although from the beginning He had the nature of God He did not reckon His equality with God a treasure to be tightly grasped.
7 Nay, He stripped Himself of His glory, and took on Him the nature of a bondservant by becoming a man like other men.
8 And being recognized as truly human, He humbled Himself and even stooped to die; yes, to die on a cross. (WNT).
Taking up your cross daily in order to be an ardent follower of Jesus implies arming yourself with the same mind or mental attitude as that of Christ. It means thinking like Christ, seeing things like Christ, interpreting things like Christ, and having His mental attitude, inclination, disposition or character.
Apostle Peter also admonishes us in 1 Peter 4:1-2:
1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (NKJV).
The mindset of the early disciples was to please the Lord at all times notwithstanding the cost.
They said, “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” (2 Cor. 5:9 NKJV).
That was the same mindset our Lord Jesus possessed when He came into the world (Heb. 10:5-7, Matt. 26:39, John 4:34).
Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 6:38 NKJV).
“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” (John 5:30 NKJV).
It takes the mindset not to seek or do your own will, but the perfect will of the Lord in every matter or situation to be a disciple of Christ. This kind of a mindset is the cross you are expected to bear daily. When you cease to have this mindset, you will begin to seek or do your own will, thereby ceasing to be a disciple of Christ.
Lastly the cross represents a lifestyle:
The natural or flesh-life ends at the cross and so also the supernatural or Christ-life starts at the cross (Rom. 6:1-6). Therefore, the cross marks the beginning of a new lifestyle or manner of living.
Paul testifies, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:4 NKJV).
No one can walk in newness of life if he has not been to the cross (Gal. 2:20). Therefore, bearing the cross implies living or expressing a crucified life which is also the resurrected life. It denotes a selfless living. It is living for Christ and His cause.
This is what Apostle Paul meant when he said, “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15 NKJV).
You cannot be a disciple of Christ if you still want to continue to live for yourself!
The cross depicts the lifestyle of a person who is completely dead to himself – to his selfish desires, dreams, ambitions or pursuits in life, but alive to Christ. It is a lifestyle that reflects the love, wisdom, power and glory of Christ. The cross speaks of total or unreserved dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:8-10).
Therefore, taking up your cross daily implies letting Christ live in and through you!
This is what Paul meant by declaring, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20 NKJV).
Beloved, you cannot be a disciple of Christ if you still want to live or run your life, family, career, business or ministry your own way and by your own strength, wisdom or effort.
Bearing the cross daily is ceasing to live for yourself, to yourself, and by yourself daily, but for the Lord Jesus, to the Lord Jesus, and by the grace of the Lord Jesus daily.
Friend, what is your choice today?
Do you want to take up your cross daily and follow the Lord Jesus, or you want to continue to evade the cross daily?
You need to decide today!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I praise You for showing me what it means to take up my cross daily. From this day henceforth, I pledge to cease to live for myself, to myself, and by myself. So help me Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen.