I just returned from attending the funeral of a friend. He was a courageous Christian friend who, because of his faith in Christ, I will see again one day in heaven. He pastored in an inner-city church. I listened to some incredible stories, many of them I heard personally from my friend. He never passed a hitchhiker without picking him up. He never denied a request for food. He found shelter for anyone who needed it. He went into the gangs inviting teens to play basketball. He started sports leagues. He was a true difference-maker.
His was a tough ministry. He was attacked several times. He physically removed people from the church building. They were usually drunk or high and they were disrupting Sunday services. But he never doubted his calling to the underserved and the disenfranchised. He never regretted serving.
There are many of us who bow to the god of no conflict, sometimes known as the god of easy living. Being a Christ-follower is the greatest thing, the right thing, the difference-making thing. But it is not necessarily an easy thing. Taking up your cross involves daily sacrifice and deliberate decisions that can be tough. Jesus said “take up YOUR cross.” Your cross is different than mine and it’s different than my friends, but if what you are doing for Jesus doesn’t involve sacrifice, it might be an indication to do some personal reflection. Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.