Jesus said whoever would follow Him had to deny themselves and take up their cross daily (Matthew 16:24). How many of us are doing this on a day to day basis? How many are willing to deny ourselves the comfort, security, and entertainment the world is telling us we deserve? Isn’t it true we want a version of Christianity that doesn’t involve the cross? We like the idea of being a Christian but dislike the sacrifice it requires.
The notion of a loving God makes us feel comfortable, but His wrath makes us go another way. There is no victory without struggle, but we want our cake and to eat it too. We want all this world has to offer and a little Jesus on the side. This is not the life Jesus called us to live as His followers.
Each of us must choose if we will follow Christ or follow the ways of this world. Following Jesus will not be the popular choice. In some countries, it will get you killed. Many places in this world make it illegal to be a Christian. Even in my own country of America, hostilities continue to grow towards those of us who choose to follow Jesus as our Lord. We’re seen as old-fashioned and intolerant, a bit behind the times. Make no mistake, if you choose to devote your life to the Son of God, your life on earth is going to become a lot more difficult. Jesus promised us as much (John 16:33).
So, before you decide for whom you will live your life, either for Jesus or for yourself, consider what your choice means. If you choose Jesus, you’re going to have to give up most, if not all, of what this world teaches you to desire. Your dreams, entertainment choices, lifestyle, relationships – they’ve all got to be sacrificed and nailed to the cross. Nothing is sacred and nothing can be held back. But you will gain the ultimate prize of Jesus Himself. You will gain an eternity spent in His presence living life as He designed it to be lived.
On the other hand, if you choose to live for yourself, you can possibly have all those things the world makes so enticing. You can live as you desire, seeking any comfort and fulfilling any craving you might have. But I warn you, if you choose this path, you will lose everything. To reject Christ is to damn yourself to an eternity in Hell, an eternity banished from the presence of your Creator. You risk losing it all for a moment of pleasure.
You cannot have it both ways. Jesus said we cannot serve two masters; we will love the one and hate the other (Matthew 6:24). You can’t seek the pleasures of this world while hanging on to Jesus. It simply won’t work. If you want Jesus you must deny yourself, surrender everything, and live as He lived. You must carry the cross of the world’s condemnation of you every day. You must carry the burden of self-sacrifice for every moment of your life. But in the end, the glorious end, it will all be worth it. You will see the King of the universe, the lover of your soul, and He will smile as He welcomes you into His Kingdom as a good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:23). Isn’t that worth letting go of everything else?
So today, you must decide whom you will serve. Only one choice makes any sense. Only one choice leads to life. Choose wisely and choose today.