Read: Matthew 10:34-42

. . . and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (v. 39)

“It’s my cross to bear.” Have you ever said that? I have. I usually mean some burden I have to carry for a short season: extra work hours or tending to a sick child or some other annoyance that is nothing more than an inconvenient hiccup in my life.

Such inconveniences, however, are not the “cross” Jesus asks us to carry. Verse 38 is the first mention of “cross” in the New Testament. What Jesus meant by it was not lost on the apostles. That word meant one thing in their world: death.

To carry one’s cross is not an inconvenient add-on to a too-busy life. It’s a fundamental reordering of our lives in the way of Jesus. When one carries a cross, there’s not room for anything else. When Jesus carried his cross to Calvary, he was taking the form of a servant and obeying God to the point of death, “even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8).

The irony, of course, is that losing one’s life in Christ is the way we actually find it (v. 39). I worshipped once in a secret church in a country that forbids worship and imprisons pastors. I was shocked by the joyfully loud singing. The whole neighborhood could hear! When I asked the pastor if they were afraid, he said, “What can they do? Put me in prison? Even the guards need to hear about Jesus.” Oh that we may be so ready to carry our cross! —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, remember and pray for those who endure persecution for following Christ.