It’s true that we are not faced with such a discernible fork in the road like the Apostle Paul in Acts 21, so what exactly do we need to be thinking about with regards to the gospel advancing through our cross bearing? Jesus points us in the right direction in Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
We save our lives and end up losing them when we seek to gain our identity, our security and our popularity in the world…and also when we are ashamed of Christ and his teachings. This happens when our main pursuit is a tangible and/or intangible status with the world, along with feeling more shame at offending someone, then we do upon dishonoring Christ.
Sometimes the temptations are manifested with words like these: “I just want to live comfortably and have financial peace, just like everyone else seems to have.” Well, we don’t have to purposefully pursue discomfort, but to structure our entire lives to reach some level of comfort we think we are entitled to, will result in great compromise. Here’s another manifestation of temptation: “When I’m with family, I just want to have a nice, peaceful time.” While our goal is certainly not to stir up dissension, our goal must entail being faithful witnesses to the truth. In certain situations, Christ has guaranteed there will NOT be peace within families that are split between believers and unbelievers. In the end, there is no peace with the wicked, no matter how hard we attempt to manufacture it, unless of course, we are trying to save our lives and then we will end up losing them.
In order to combat these tendencies, we must deny ourselves those things, take up our crosses daily and constantly follow after Christ. We must not hold our lives in high esteem nor think that our physical and spiritual lives were given to us by God in order to pursue our own ends. But if we follow Christ on his path, there is much grace and mercy given to be faithful and the gospel will go forth through our dying. And hopefully we agree, that there is no better cause to give our lives for, than for Him who gave us life and salvation.