24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. –Matthew 16:24, 25 (KJV)
I shared in another blog post how that when I was a boy my brother and I used to engage in some fairly serious wrestling matches. I suppose this is common for boys as we are apt to test each other’s strength. When one of us got another person in a hold of some sort and was trying to win the match, the one with the upper hand might demand his opponent cry “uncle.” Speaking this word is a sign of submission. Once uttered it signified you had surrendered. I am not sure the origins of why we demand the person cry uncle, so I’ll have to get back with you on this one.
Jesus said if we desire to be His followers we must deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Him. Through losing ourselves we gain life in Christ; we gain the abundant life here and now and eternal life when we cross over into heaven. Taking up the cross of Christ is a symbolic act of submission to God’s will. We deny self and take on Christ thereby submitting. It is not intended to be a painful cry of “uncle” in which we are dragged into Christ’s service. Rather we are intended to joyfully submit to Christ and take up His cross and follow Him. I have known some who by their own admission went “kicking and screaming” into the Lord’s service. If that’s what it takes then so be it. However, surrendering voluntarily is by far the better choice.
Many people choose not to follow Jesus for fear of losing their identities. We do not lose our identities in Jesus. Instead we discover who we truly are. Countless people have spent painful years going through the process of trying to find themselves and answer the questions regarding who they truly are. Everything about the gospel is designed to aid this process. The Lord takes us as we are and transforms us into what and who we are meant to be. Indeed this can be painful at times, yet in Christ we find comfort and as we go we discover the joy of growing into who and what Christ has called us to be.
So, who am I anyway? I can best discover the answer to this question by taking up the cross and following Jesus Christ. He leads us down paths of service in which our spiritual gifts are put to positive and practical use and we then grow in service to Christ. My friends, do not fear the process of submitting to God’s will. This is the most liberating experience of our lives, for in Christ we find our true selves. The Lord will empower us to be all we are meant to be in Him.