“Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:38)

TO TAKE UP ONE’S CROSS meant something entirely different to first-century residents of Israel from what it means to twenty-first-century residents of the US. To ancient people, the cross was not a polished piece of jewelry dangling from a gold chain. It was an instrument of execution. To them, taking up one’s cross was a duty enforced on condemned prisoners by Roman soldiers, who made the convict carry his own cross beam to the place of execution. The individual, bent beneath the weight of the cross, knew one thing for certain: He was on his way to death.

How would it change your thinking to consider yourself on the road to death? I don’t mean that in a morbid, pessimistic way, but in a sober, realistic way. When death seems imminent, we have a tendency to view life differently and sort our priorities accordingly. Don’t wait until you have some terminal disease before you begin thinking about eternity!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German minister, was offered a teaching position in 1939 at a distinguished American seminary. He declined in order to return to his native Germany, knowing full well that, as a dedicated Christ-follower and opponent of the Nazi regime, he would be a marked man. However, he had taken up his cross, regardless of the circumstances, and he was prepared to lay down his life.

Practice the daily discipline of taking up your cross.

Ron McClung serves as assistant general secretary for The Wesleyan Church and lives in Fishers, Indiana, with his wife, Carol. They have two sons, nine grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission