Notes of life: Carry your cross, however heavy it may be | faith and values

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If you’ve ever done something you didn’t like, you could very well be like Jesus. For the disciple of God, there are many opportunities to do things outside the norm every day. I believe God is always trying to get our attention, but we don’t listen. I remember when I was in high school, I had these weird thoughts in my head. Thoughts like “Go pray for that person” or “Ask that person how their day was.” I didn’t want to interact with strangers, so I wrote these thoughts down as weird ideas that didn’t belong in my busy schedule. After all, those naps weren’t going to be taken!

As I matured in my faith, I realized that God had subtly yelled at me and I was choosing not to listen. I asked God for boldness, wisdom, and discernment as I spoke to complete strangers, bought food for the people behind me in line, and prayed for neighborhoods I don’t know. had no connection. These things, while good, weren’t always on my to-do list. Even today, I have to tell myself that following God takes work, that not every task or job is popular, glamorous, or even seen. But the kingdom of God is made up of people who serve and follow Jesus, so I listen and obey. I take up my cross and follow Jesus.

Jesus told his disciples “If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). If we look back a few verses, we see what prompted Jesus to say that. We read in verses 21-23 that Jesus was showing his disciples what would eventually happen to him, telling them of his persecution, death, and resurrection. Peter – one of the disciples, rebukes Jesus when he hears this, even saying that such things will never happen to him. Jesus responds by saying, “Get behind me, Satan! (v. 23). Jesus was not happy with Peter.

When Jesus chides Peter for suggesting there was another way for him—that these events didn’t have to happen that way—it reminds me of when Jesus was fighting Satan in the desert. Jesus resists, and at the end of this exchange, angels come to take care of Jesus. Jesus knew what his purpose was, and he knew that the fate of the world depended on his perfection, the spotless lamb who would serve as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. If at any time he had yielded to Satan’s suggestions and offers, mankind would still be lost. But Jesus fought hard and resisted Satan. When Peter suggests to Jesus that he does not have to suffer his fate, Jesus rebukes Peter.

We read in Luke 22 that Jesus prays on the Mount of Olives and it is genuine prayer. Jesus, the Son of God, prays: “Father, if you will, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not my will be done, but yours. (v.42, ESV)

A modern approach to this prayer would be, “God, I don’t want to do this. But if you want me to do it, I will.

For my part, I am so happy that Jesus shows us his humanity in this prayer. I can absolutely identify with this prayer; I think I pray this every day! This is where we can see what Jesus means regarding Matthew 16:24. To take up your cross means to do something to yourself that you might not want to do, but you know that God wants you to do it. Jesus didn’t want to die a horrible death, but he knew that was what the Father wanted, so he did. You can read Hebrews 12:2 for Jesus’ motivation.

Maybe you don’t want to make amends with your friend or neighbor, but you know God is calling you. Maybe you don’t want to learn about other cultures or the people around you so you can continue to live your best bubbly life, but God is calling you to reach out to others. Maybe you want to keep complaining around you, even though God is calling you to higher things.

Whatever your cross, know that Jesus gives you the strength to carry it, and that choice must be made every day. It’s not just to make you feel uncomfortable or to ruin your day. God molds us through discomfort and strengthens us in our moments of weakness. Know that God’s plan is for you to become more like Jesus, and it is a lifelong process. Just as Jesus now sits at the right hand of God, we too will be honored for our obedience.

Mauricio Paredes is a junior pastor at Koinonia Church in Hanford, California. He can be reached at [email protected] or at 559-582-1528.

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