What if we asked people, “Have you taken up the cross of Christ?” I had the opportunity to ask that question once. The reply was, “What do you mean? I have never heard that before.” I then opened to Matthew 16:24. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” This led into a conversation about when and how we take up the cross of Christ. “Crosses were for dying on,” I pointed out. This is talking about dying to our sins. I then shared what Paul said in Romans 6:3-7. We die to sin when we are baptized into Christ. Paul added in verse six that our old self is crucified when we are baptized. Since it is at the cross that Jesus confronted the sins of the world, the place where we take up the cross, and the point where our sins are taken away is at baptism. I meet a lot of people who do not know this, or at least have not seen this truth from that perspective.
Just how we take up the cross of Christ is the issue and there is only one way. But first, people must know more about the message of the cross. The cross of Christ is what we at Three Forks are commanded to lift up (John 12:32). Jesus did not command us to lift up the church, church programs, individuals in the church, or nice facilities (as good as that would be in doing so). He said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” He alone has the drawing power. Thankfully, He dignifies us by choosing to work through flawed individuals like us to reach our neighbors who are outside of God’s family.
People have to be exposed to Christ. They may do this on their own, but Jesus did not command for us to wait to see if they do. He has commanded us to go to them. There are many ways to accomplish His mission. Perhaps a good way to begin is by asking if they have taken up the cross of Christ in their lives.