“The way to bliss lies not on a bed of down, and he that has no cross deserves no crown.” Francis Quades
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?” Luke 9:23-25
Walking in the way of the cross is the foundational lifestyle choice for the follower of God. This is stated clearly and often in the New Testament, and we have explored several of the case statements in previous posts. The transaction that takes place when a person chooses to devote his or her life to following Jesus is life changing in its implications. We are placed into Jesus Christ, meaning the salvation, death and resurrection in His life become effective in our lives. When we identify and align ourselves with Him and His purposes, He imparts these to us as a means of restoring us to permanent fellowship with Him. All barriers arising out of our rebellion against Him are removed, and we are now free to be friends of God.
Also imparted to us is the life of Christ Himself, given in the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Now we have the power to live a holy life in communion with Him. All that is remaining is for us to choose to live accordingly every day. This is the purpose of the crucified life in us, for we are independent beings by our God’s design. We can choose to go with Him each day or go apart from Him each day. To choose our God is to choose the death of self.
To choose to go with Him requires the denial of our self-direction and promotion and surrendering ourselves to His will and life in us. We die to everything selfish, and seek to be crucified to that life. If we have chosen to follow Jesus, it is a consuming choice and not a “Sunday and Wednesday night” arrangement. It is not about having devotions in the morning and being free to live my life the rest of the day. It is a total, all-day-every-day yielding of the entire living of the person to Him, or it is nothing.
In Colossians chapter 3 we read, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” In choosing Christ to be our life, we are choosing a life of seeking Him above all else. A life of seeking the things above, the things that are with Christ and of Christ.
To “set one’s mind on the things above, and not on the things of earth” is the description of crucified living. To “set one’s mind” as it is used here means to have a personal opinion that is expressing itself in action. It is an unusual Greek term because it combines the visceral and cognitive aspects of thinking in a way that communicates strong commitment of mind and body to the task. The implication is to continually direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek or strive for it continually. This captures the underlying commitment to our God that caused New Testament writers to use terms such as “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2), and of course, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
To live a crucified life is the commitment of mind and body to seek Christ and His priorities above self and self-derived priorities. It is to see one’s human existence as completely centered on Christ Jesus and all He would do in the person, and to see oneself as dead to worldly priorities and self-derived living. It is a commitment made anew each day, many times each day to seek the denial of self and to yield anew to the Holy Spirit of Christ within.
The crucified life costs us everything, yet everything it costs us is a thing not worthy of us, is not that for which we were made. By the crucified life we gain everything we were created to have in this life and forever. To walk in the way of the cross requires us to pray for our God to slay us each day, so that He might live His life in and through us.
“Christ is Lord and can make any demands upon us that He chooses, even to the point of requiring that we deny ourselves and bear the cross daily. The mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit that follows will restore to the soul infinitely more than has been taken away. It is a hard way, but a glorious one. Those who have known the sweetness of it will never complain about what they have lost. They will be too well pleased with what they have gained.” A.W. Tozer