The Cost of Following

Many today call themselves followers of Christ simply because they give mental assent to the basic truths of the gospel and live relitively moral lives, but what Christ had in mind when He spoke of followers was much more. Jesus addresses what it means to follow Him in Luke 9. In Christ’s description there are two prerequisites to actually following Christ. The first is to deny one’s self, and the other is to take up one’s cross.
Denying one’s self is often seen as merely depriving one’s self of a few sinful pleasures in life. While this is certainly part of it, in no way does this begin to approach what Jesus truly said. He did not say, “Deny sin,” and did not even say, “Deny your own will.” He said, “Deny yourself.” This includes anything that you call your own: job, family, desires, money, freedom, comfort, and even ministry. To fill your life with following Christ you must first empty your grip of anything else.
Taking up one’s cross is the second prerequisite. Christ had not gone to the cross when He said this. The disciples would have thought about the cross much differently than we would today. It would be similar to someone telling you, “Go bring your electric chair.” This was an invitation to expect eminent torture and death. Following Christ is inseparable from living in a constant willingness to at any moment go through the worst pain, face the strongest opposition, and die a criminal’s death because Christ is truly your all.