“Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.”
Mark 8:34-35 NLT
The Romans, Mark’s original audience, knew what taking up the cross meant. Death on a cross was a form of execution used by Rome for dangerous criminals. A prisoner carried his own cross to the place of execution, signifying submission to Rome’s power.
Jesus used the image of carrying a cross to illustrate the ultimate submission required of his followers. He is not against pleasure, nor was he saying that we should seek pain needlessly. Jesus was talking about the heroic effort needed to follow him moment by moment, to do his will even when the work is difficult and the future looks bleak.
We should be willing to lose our lives for the sake of the Good News, not because our lives are useless but because nothing—not even life itself—can compare to what we gain with Christ. Jesus wants us to choose to follow him rather than to lead a life of sin and self-satisfaction. He wants us to stop trying to control our own destiny and to let him direct us. This makes good sense because, as the Creator, Christ knows better than we do what real life is about. He asks for submission, not self-hatred; he asks us only to lose our self-centered determination to be in charge. (Tyndal Study Bible)
To lose our self- centered determination to be in control? What can we control? I think of the current Rand exchange rate. I ask you who can control that? I have been in business for many years and yet to see if a single person can make a difference.
That determination to be in control causes us to become self-centered.
Our self-centered determination to be in charge. We can all relate to this. This determination also produces wrong choices in life. How may times have we made a bad decision because we want to improve our status? I can think of countless times I have done that.
I was present at a teaching by Dr. Rodney Howard Browne. His motto and words he lives by are Holy, Humble and Pure. It has been my inspiration since that day. Will submission be an issue if you live by these words?
These weaknesses – self-centered, self-satisfaction, controlling, defiance and hatred to name but a few. Mark makes reference to the cross because all these weaknesses are a burden to the individual, just like the cross. To give these up is also a burden. It’s not easy. Giving all these up will feel like dying. Yep, it will feel like losing control.
Read the scripture carefully. Open up the door, give up your old life, take up your Cross and follow God. Taking up the cross is an illustration of total submission. Total submission are we all there?
Maybe these words will help, Holy, Humble, and Pure.
“Lord I submit to You. Give me determination for total submission. In Jesus name. Amen”