"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."

– Romans 8:14

Take Up Your Cross

It is the beginning of the semester at Liberty University and now that I have been able to settle into my schedule, I feel I should be able to adequately describe how I think the rest of the year will unfold. Because I passed a good amount of the freshman/first-year classes last semester, I am beginning to undertake the majority of my major's coursework. This includes another semester of Greek as well as a Bible course needed to take the upper level Bible classes.

I find it so interesting to have conversations with my friends about how this is going to be the semester they really "knuckle down" and focus. Planners are filled with reading assignments and quiz days, sticky-notes cover desks and computer screens, flash cards stack up higher than the empty pizza boxes in the corner.

"This is the time to make good decisions!"
"I'm not going to play ANY video games or watch ANY TV!"
"Every class I'm going to take notes on paper and then type them up on my computer! Double the retention rate!"

These and other statements of the same nature can be heard throughout college coffee shops and classrooms across campuses everywhere. But how often do we get tired of flipping through flash-cards, highlighting paragraphs of text, and  transferring several stacks of journals into our laptops? "Why are you doing this to me!" cries your laptop. "Remember when you just used me to watch YouTube videos and check your Twitter? I want to go back to that!"

Too often do we lack determination in seeing our goals completed. We grow tired of staying on schedule. The distractions become even more accessible than when we were fully embracing our procrastination.

In my own life I have found this lack of determination and responsibility to affect so much more than just my academic performance. When I reflect upon my relationship with Christ I am able to identify the times where I have felt beat-up and broken, passionless and poor in spirit. It is during these times that I do not cling to Christ as my sufficiency and completion. It is during these times of apathy that I set down my cross, no longer wishing to carry it.

One of the greatest benefits of studying New Testament Greek is being able to understand the original meaning behind the words of the authors. An example where this knowledge of the koine becomes extremely important is found in Matthew 16:24:

"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. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?'"

In the original Greek, the verb form used contains aspect or an intended meaning from the author that indicates an action with continual results or implications. In other words, when Christ said to take up your cross and follow, He was implying the act of following as a continuous effort, not just simply a one-time act of obedience. When we are called to a relationship with Christ we are not just making a decision for today. We are making a decision for tomorrow, a decision that brings about a new identity and a new nature. When we enter into this new-found identity, our lack of determination or passion is no longer an issue, as we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit Who provides all wisdom, all power, and all truth.

The call to Christianity is not one to be underestimated. It is not a call to be taken lightly, as it affects every aspect of this life. Christ has given us the ultimate display of a life wholly submitted to the will of God seen in the very death He suffered. Despite His humanity crying out, "Let this cup pass from me!" His understanding of God's perfect and holy plan prompted his declaration, "not as I will, but as You will."

We must strive to live our lives diligently in the Spirit of God, never losing heart when circumstances bring negative results. When we struggle to see the benefits of determination and passion we can always look to the example of Christ crucified. His determination brought Him to the cross, determined to see us no longer dead in our sins but alive in His love and His grace. If we cannot be determined in our relationship with the Almighty God, how can we expect to follow through with anything in life? Everything else pales in comparison when lined up next to the importance of seeking to see much made of Christ, while we decrease.

A quote that has greatly impacted my desire to live completely for Christ can be seen below:

"When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die."
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Daily we must die to our old selves. When in the morning we rise to the death of our old life, the reality that we are made new in Christ influences every conversation and every encounter, no matter how seemingly insignificant. It must be the desire of the Christ follower to "put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires." We must daily "be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24)

If Christ is calling you to Him, allow Him to break the chains of who you once were and live a life redeemed in His grace and love.

Much of Christ

Much of Christ

Alone With God