So, what does it really mean for Jesus to say, “Those who want to come with me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses every day, and follow me” (Luke 9:23 God’s Word)?

We can’t die to forgive sins like Jesus did on the Calvary cross. It certainly means more than a piece of jewelry we wear to announce our spiritual loyalty.

Now the cross was the culmination of Jesus’ ministry on earth. So would it mean we live every moment caught up in the final purpose of our calling as disciples of Jesus?

And what constitutes the “final purpose”? The last words of Jesus before returning to the heavenly realm would qualify, it seems to me, for that function. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to do everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20 God’s Word).

So Jesus says, “Go”. Never build and expect people to come. At work and shopping and walking and, well, “wherever” we go.

“Make disciples”, not members, not donors, not people to submit to pastoral authority (Jesus has ALL authority which leaves none for psychologically deficient power-mongers), but people who serve Jesus Christ above all things and without distractions by institutional demands for loyalty.

In the New Testament baptism did not make a person a Baptist or Roman Catholic, or whatever. The public declaration, the ceremony of submission to Jesus and the humility of showing a choice to serve through more than mere words became the way for the early Christians to emphasize a convert’s loyalty to Jesus the Messiah.

And we “teach”. What? Not creeds or Canon Law, not approved statements of faith or denominational history, but “everything I [Jesus] have commanded you”. That we find in the Bible. And what did Jesus command? “Love one another” (for example John 13:34, 15:12, 17).

So, we go – make – baptize – teach. The early Church did that and the Good News spread like wildfire on tinder dry grassland.

Spread of Early Christianity


I think this description really nails it on our foreheads: “So when you take into consideration the early Christians’ fearless devotion to their faith; their willingness to testify through their own martyrdom to the truth of Christ; their humble and compassionate lifestyle; their care for each other and the helpless and hurting and disenfranchised in the community; their commitment to prayer; and their empowerment by the Holy Spirit, you can begin to understand why the faith spread so rapidly.” (John G. Woodbridge in “The Case for Faith”, 1998, by Lee Strobel, p. 204.)

So, if someone did a reality show with you as the star, and followed you around for a week, would the video show you acting like Christ in love or acting the part of the devil’s advocate?

Best to let Jesus have the last word, from Luke 14:26-27 (God’s Word): “If people come to me and are not ready to abandon their fathers, mothers, wives, children, brothers, and sisters, as well as their own lives, they cannot be my disciples. So those who do not carry their crosses and follow me cannot be my disciples.”