"And calling the crowd to Him with His disciples, He said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." -Mark 8:34
Have you noticed how more and more, the church is becoming more about the people and less about God? How people want to hear less about the cross and more about how wonderful everything is? Have you stopped to think about how people are, instead of taking up their cross, just doing things out of habit and never sacrificing anything? Today my goal is to remove the focus of you, my reader, from yourself, and change it to the cross. "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" Mark 8:34. We need to change our focus.
Sacrifice is a key ingredient to salvation. You cannot have salvation without giving up everything. Philippians 3:8 "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ." Whenever we see the word "sacrifice", we often over-look it. We think of it as just another word that we know the meaning of, but never consider the weight of it. We never realize that this verse is saying that we need to give up everything for Christ. "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell." Matthew 5:29. Philippians 3:8 is saying that everything you own, your money, job, school, your everything, belongs to God and should be used accordingly. Nothing is ours, not even our lives. When we are baptized, we are no longer ours. The things we own are no longer ours. We belong to God now, and we have to give up a lot of things in order to stay His. Are you willing to make sacrifices for God?
Yesterday during worship services, our preacher led a prayer right before his sermon and he mentioned the final chapter of Jesus's life and I honestly thought "I don't want to think about that." And it struck me immediately that no one wants to think about that. And that is our problem today. We constantly see the cross as a symbol of hope and of salvation, but we rarely see it for what is really is, and that is the thing on which we murdered Jesus. The world has changed the focus of the cross to mean something of beauty and we neglect to remember what happened on it. We neglect to remember why Jesus died there: because of our sin. Because we refuse to follow His will. And we don't like to think about that because it isn't pleasant. But I bet Jesus didn't want to think about it either. I bet Jesus didn't want to think about how he was going to be tortured for hours on end until he died. But He did, and we cannot forget that.
Today I would like to encourage you all to change your focus. Instead of thinking about what God can do for you, instead of asking for things, thank Him. Today I want to encourage you to take a step back and just thank God for the salvation He has given us. To study the Bible and to think about what it truly means to be a Christian. Today I would like to encourage you to change your perspective from yourself, to the cross.