Imagine two people get married. Now, what if they considered their wedding day to be the finish line for their relationship? What if they stopped working on their relationship on their wedding day? What a tragedy, right!?
Marriage is hard work. Sanctification is hard work. No couple ever has a strong and successful marriage by accident. No follower of Jesus sees the power of sin decline in his life by accident. And we do not mature as followers of Jesus by doing nothing.
A couple doesn’t drift lazily into a solid marriage. You and your spouse have to work at it and you fight for it together every single day. That’s what the sanctified life is like. No one ever comes to Jesus in faith for salvation, and then just sits back, does nothing, and watches their soul grow and flourish.
Maturing as a follower of Jesus takes work – hard work – a significant investment of time & energy & resources. Jesus described it this way (Luke 9:23): “If any of you wants to be My disciple,” – My student, My pupil, someone who learns and grows under My leadership and instruction – “If any of you wants to be My disciple, you must deny yourself” – well, that’s not easy… “you must deny yourself, you must take up your cross” – wait, what? that’s literally the hardest thing I can imagine doing. Honestly – death? and not just death, but – torturous Roman execution-style death! Really?
Yes. For our flesh to die – for our sinful nature and desires to fully diminish(>) out of our lives – that is what it takes. Just one time? Is it like a wedding? Do you just pledge your love and faithfulness to your spouse one time, on one significant day, and then that’s all it takes for your marriage relationship to be set and solid for life? Nope. Nowhere close.
“If any of you wants to be My disciple, you must deny yourself, take up your cross – daily” – DAILY. Daily!?! Yes – our flesh, our sinful inclinations have to be crucified – not just one time, but every single day.
“If any of you wants to be My disciple, you must deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) Phwew! Following Jesus is not an easy call. But it is the best call. It sets us on a journey that ends our slavery to sin, and liberates us to the abundant life for which we were made. And every single one of us can do it with His help.