He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? (Mark 8:34-37)
Self-denial means much more than delaying gratification, or suppressing our desires during Lent. It means separating ourselves from what defines us in the world. It means to put to death our own plans and desires and turn our lives over to Jesus to do his will. He call us to commit our whole lives to him, to trust him alone for our salvation, and then to follow him as his disciples.
The cross signifies suffering, rejection, persecution, even death, but Jesus reminds us that if we are willing to deny ourselves out of love for him, and follow him in humble obedience, the cross that we carry will result not in death, but life everlasting. There is no greater joy than following Christ.
Lead us O God in the way of Christ. Give us the courage take up our cross and follow you. Open our eyes so that we may see in the cross the revelation of your love through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.
Gloria Wellington — Loyal, Caring, Creative