One of the most profound statements Jesus ever made to an audience, in my opinion, is found in Luke 9:23. It reads, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (NASB) Jesus, in a very straightforward manner, uses a few words to summarize the criteria for being his follower; they still apply today.

“If anyone wishes” signifies that Jesus was not seeking people to force into submission; rather, he presented an invitation and the people had the freedom to choose whether they would follow Him or not. Those who chose then (and who choose now) to follow Him must do the following…

1) Deny himself– Mankind, naturally, has selfish tendencies. As humans, we instinctively look out for our own interests and wellbeing first. The battle between the flesh and spirit is so intense for Christians mainly because catering to the flesh requires no effort at all; living spiritually, however, requires much effort all of the time. (Gal 5:16,17)

2) Take up his cross daily- Indeed, all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus, will be persecuted. (2 Tim 3:12) As Christians (followers of Christ) we are sanctified and set apart from the world though baptism (Gal 3:27, Rom 6:3-11, 1 Pet 2:9, 10); we show our commitment to Christ by endeavoring daily to maintain a positive, righteous response even during unfavorable situations. Daily, we must bear our burdens, and humble ourselves before God, just as He did.

3) Follow me- One is able to follow Jesus only after he/she has committed himself/herself to previously mentioned commands. Following the lead of another means that one makes a choice to forfeit his/her plans and adhere to the instructions that the leader gives. If we will truly follow Christ, we must line up behind Him. He can’t lead us if we’re in front and we can’t follow His steps if we’re not behind Him; two people cannot lead at the same time. (Jer 10:23)

Make some time to pray and ask God to help you increase your faith in Christ. Recognize that Christ has all power; only He has the power to lead you from this life to the next. Stop wasting your time and energy trying to “figure it out” and trudge your own path; trust Jesus Christ, follow His ways and find true life!