I believe the most important thing for each blood-bought child of God is the issue of obedience.
I became an evangelist-missionary because God called me into His service. I felt like I was drafted into God’s Army and I wasn’t going to be a draft dodger. I would have certainly volunteered, but I never thought that I was qualified. I felt honored that He wanted me.
Answering God’s call and presenting myself to obey led me into a career of great joy and satisfaction. Serving God became my life’s adventure. At the same time, presenting myself required that I be willing, able and ready to bear a cross.
There is a saying, We all have our crosses to bear,” as though anything which is unpleasant and unavoidable is comparable to the cross. But that demeans the meaning of the cross. Carrying the cross of Christ is much more severe than dealing with daily troubles and the trials of existence, and it carries much more meaning. It has to do with entering into the Calvary experience of Jesus.
Philippians 2:8 describes the cross as the apex of Christ’s obedience: “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
And there is no way we can obey God and avoid the cross.
Jesus Himself underscored the importance of the cross for anyone who would follow Him: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me'” (Matthew 16:24).
God does not call us all to be evangelists, but He does call us all to bear a cross for Him. There is no such thing as an easy way to be crucified with Christ. It is a continual dying to self, a continual separation from those to whom the gospel is seen as foolishness. It is the sacrifice of our self-image to be conformed into the image of Christ.
Yet there is a result of joy in obeying God, even in bearing the cross. We can be lifted in knowing that the burden we carry is one that God laid upon us. We can have confidence that the cross will work God’s great purpose not only in our lives, but also in the lives of those whom He will reach by our obedience.
The saying, “We all have our cross to bear,” is usually groaned by those who are doing what they must, but only because it is demanded. That was not Yeshua’s attitude, “…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Those of us who have been redeemed by Yeshua’s blood do all have our cross to bear. We can trudge along feeling sorry for ourselves under the weight of the cross. Or we can bear it as a badge of honor. We can endure because of the joy set before us. We can present ourselves readily, joyously and obediently because of the great privilege it is to serve the King of the Universe.
Obedience to God is not only the action of the moment. It is the way we think. Obedience to God is the attitude of being alert to Him, having our eyes fixed on the Lord, ready to respond to His gesture. We can cultivate the attitude of obedience by being aware of Him and alert to His cues. We can stand ready to stir ourselves to action. Most of all we can be confident of the fact that our obedience will result in joy.