If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?
Dave Smiffy says he's deeply troubled by Jesus' words here, and I think that might just be the right reaction! But then how should we tell people about Jesus? 'Hey friend, become a Christian and lose your life, turn from your selfish ways!' Not an appealing message? I'm with Dave:
Is this the message I want to be giving to people, that to follow Jesus means denying oneself and taking up a cross? It leaves me questioning whether I want to follow Jesus, let alone preach this message.
Maybe though, this message is more real than the kind that implies God will sort everything out in our life if we become Christians. Jesus' invitation to take up your cross and lose your life is not such an instantly attractive offer, of course. But perhaps it's a message that can weather the tragedies and disappointments all of us will face at some point. And perhaps we just have to be faithful in presenting this message, unvarnished and unsweetened, while trusting God to do his work (as we also live the message faithfully too, of course).