What a week it has been! My youth group attended the XII conference this year in Bradenton, FL and WOW! Our group had 3 salvations and 5 baptisms by the end of the week. Our God is SO SO GOOD!
There were many speakers, some amazing topics, but there was one message the stood out to me the most. For years, literally YEARS, I have been praying to hear a convicting message that is clear of all of the fluff we are used to hearing in a gospel presentation. So often the message is about what we receive when we become Christ followers, not what the journey actually entails. I’ve been to camps, conferences, events, etc., all over the world throughout my life, and I hear the same thing over and over again all of the time. “When you accept Jesus into your heart, you will have unconditional love, mercy, grace, forgiveness…” and on and on the list goes. Though these things are all so true and it is SO wonderful that we imperfect people receive these things, we tend to want to skip over the hard, the dirty, and uneasy part of what you take on when you profess Jesus as your savior.
Dan Lian was the speaker and as soon as he got on stage, he started preaching on Mark 8:34-35.
“And calling the crowd to hi with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:34-35 ESV.
To understand what being a christian REALLY means, we have to know that all of the good things in life only come after surrendering to him. BUT it is so much more than that! Jesus wants our ALL! And not everyone liked that idea, or what he was preaching, just like we don’t have to be liked for living a life in complete surrender to Christ.
But what in the world does it mean to fully surrender to Christ? It is all in these verses. We have to pick up our cross. This hit me so hard I barely was taking notes since I was so consumed in trying to process all of the truth that was being thrown at me in this most obscure and different gospel presentation.
See a cross was a symbol of disgrace. We all know that it was meant for criminals from the story told throughout the Gospels. So here in Mark, Jesus is telling us to pick up this symbol of disgrace, to carry this uncomfortable and inconvenient object. I’m left with one question, why?
Because life gets inconvenient. When we’re truly living the life we are called to as a child of the living king, life is in no way going to be easy. We have to fit ourselves and our lives around the cross in order to give glory to God, and to be apart of God’s plan for our lives.
I have always wanted to be a world changer, but to be transparent, I always expected for God to just throw that opportunity in my lap. But to be a REAL world changer for Christ’s name, I have to make an effort to fit my life around the cross, and to let the Lord determine where I go and what I do and not let the influences of the World affect me.
God is so so good and I cannot say it enough!