What's so important about discovering your identity in Christ?
Watch this clip from my favorite movie, Milo and Otis (most importantly the part from 2:50 to 5:06.
When I think about my identity in Christ, I am reminded of this part. The chicken is thoroughly convinced from birth that he is a puppy. The problem is, he was not created to be a puppy. He was created to be a chicken! And as much as he tries, he is not equipped with puppy qualities. It is only when he discovers who he was created to be (a chicken) that he can start acting like one and be effective at living out his purpose... in this case, to lay eggs.
So what is our identity in Christ? This week we were given a list of about 200 identities spelled out for us in the New Testament. This week I want to look at five more closely: cross-carriers (Luke 9:23), jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7), blameless (Ephesians 1:4), rooted and established in Love (Ephesians 3:17), and foot-washers (John 13:1-17).
Tonight -- cross-carrier.
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."When Jesus told us to take up our cross, he didn't mean "cross" to be some kind of burden we must carry in our lives. Today, the cross represents atonement, forgiveness, grace, and love. In the first century, the cross meant only one thing: death by the most painful and humiliating means developed, a torturous death. Carrying the cross meant carrying your own execution device while facing ridicule on the way to your death.
"Take up your cross and follow me" means willing to die in order to follow Jesus -- dying to self -- absolute surrender.
24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?The first-century men who followed Jesus really liked him. They thought he would save them from the unfriendly Roman rulers. They thought the end time were near. But when Jesus started telling them that he was going to die, his popularity dropped dramatically. The first-century followers were not able to put to death their own desires, ideas, and plans.
Take up your cross and follow me. Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing some of your closest friends? Losing your popularity? Your reputation? Your job? Your life? Are you willing? Jesus doesn't say these things will happen for sure, but they might. He does say his followers will face suffering. Will you give up your hopes, dreams, possessions, or even your life, if need be, for the cause of Christ? Will you be a cross-carrier?