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March 30, 2009
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me'" (Matthew 16:24).
I love to watch the people at church. Some, young parents who get up early on Sundays to teach their kids the discipline of worship, know that parenthood is a gift from God and they nurture their children to reflect the trust God wants from us all. Youth, on fire with ideals they've learned in God's word and from their community of faith, are eager to share their vision with the world at large. Their parents are at a crossroad, relinquishing some of the more directive aspects of parenting their children and redefining their relationships with these emerging individuals. In the older people, the fruit of discipleship is like fragrant incense permeating the sanctuary. In their faces, you can see suffering servants, yet also the joy of a God who laughs at the antics of His children (or grandchildren!).
In all these disciples, denying self and taking up the cross involves being a Christ-follower to the best of their abilities, in whatever place they meet God day-to-day. They may be learning Bible verses on Sunday and learning relationships with family and schoolmates Monday through Saturday, resisting the pressure to succumb to negative peer influences, striving to do God's will as a single adult - both in and out of the workplace. They may be living in marriage like Christ and His church, getting up with sick children at night, chauffeuring them to extracurricular activities, or caring for an aging spouse while grieving the loss of someone dear, and trying to trust God in the vulnerable process of aging.
Whatever the cross may be, when God's people take it up and follow Jesus in following Godís will for them, they're living the great commission to tell the world about Jesus and to demonstrate that we're all called to let Jesus save us in our daily lives as well as for eternity. He will help us carry that cross if we, like John the Baptist, say, "He must increase, I must decrease." When we let Him increase and get ourselves out of the way, He helps us carry our load and the burden is light. We can show the world that He is with us across our whole lifespan.
Lord Jesus, thank you for calling us out of darkness and into Your marvelous light. Help us to praise You and to let Your light shine through the events of our days so that we may glorify our Father who is in Heaven. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.