“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘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 will find it.'” – Matt. 16:24-25
Imagine you are at a crossroads.
On the left, the road is smooth and easy, no danger in sight…until it dead ends at a cliff. On the right, the road twists and turns, goes up some mountains, then plummets into a few valleys here and there, with a few ferocious beasts sprinkled in the midst, all culminating at a glorious peak that ascends beyond the clouds into a blissful realm of glory.
Which path do you want to take?
Well, whether you are a believer or non-believer in the Lord, Christ paid the ultimate price to grant us this very opportunity.
“What’s the catch?” you may ask.
Well, He makes it pretty clear in Matthew 16: Deny yourself and take up your cross.
To give context, in Roman times, crucifixion was the most brutal form of execution. So, when Jesus told His disciples this, there were probably a few nervous gulps among them.
Christian or not, we many times try to look for the easy path, the one with less pain and suffering. We many times act like Pliable from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, hearing of the great things that await us at our journey’s end (eternity in Heaven with the Father), but when trials and difficulties come our way, like it did to Christian and Pliable when they found themselves drowning in the Slough of Despond, we immediately throw our hands in the air and give up, grumbling for the return of the easier path.
I’m sorry to say this, but there is only one place that easier path will take you: Down.
What we so easily forget is that the whole of Scripture teaches that to walk the righteous path of the Lord is not a walk in the park. All throughout the Bible, from Noah to Paul, every single one of these righteous individuals had to go through things that we could never imagine. Yet, they still endured it.
One perfect example of this is Job, a righteous man who God tested by allowing Satan to take away all his possessions, his children, and his health. Yet, Job remained faithful to the Lord through it all. As it says in Job 1:20-21,
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’”
Oh, what faith!
So, I ask you again, do you want to take the easy road and suffer the eternal consequences of said path, or will you follow Christ over the mountains and through the valleys of life to one day be with Him forever in that blessed Heaven above?
The choice is yours.