Our 21st century world is filled with talk about rights: human rights, animal rights, pro-choice rights, workers’ rights … the list goes on. All are valid concerns, but our modern society has unwittingly placed a great emphasis on striving to be heard, with everyone fighting for survival.
The heart of the Bible story comes from a very different place. At the center of the Gospel is an innocent man condemned to death, who nonetheless says, “No one takes my life from me, I lay it down” and He does so willingly (John 10:18).
Tozer wrote about the person who takes up their cross to follow Christ changing direction in life, saying, “Death is behind him and joyous and increasing life before.” In other words, a crucified person is not going back to their former life and neither do they have any future plans!
Jesus’ words in Luke chapter 9 make clear that surrender is the only way forward in the Christian life. We relinquish control of our destiny in order to put our trust in Father God. We are no longer in the driving seat – He is. The Message version puts it beautifully when it says, “Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.”
In a world full of selfies, this message is very countercultural. But the Bible language of surrender and sacrifice has nothing to do with punishing ourselves. Rather, it means to grasp the truth of being fully identified in the death of Jesus. He took our place. Surrender – taking up our cross – is recognizing daily that Jesus has accomplished all for us, we have died in Christ, and He now lives in us.
Once we understand this, we can easily serve others. We cease striving and campaigning for our rights because we no longer have a point to prove. There is no further need for self-justification. Of course, people will still do things that hurt us, but the fact is: dead people feel nothing!
The message of the cross is radical, life-changing, world-changing ... Let’s renew our hope and trust in Christ today.