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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Why Don't Christians Grow?

You have people give their lives to Christ. They are baptized and they go to church every week. They study the Bible and become quite knowledgeable of its contents. They can be seen at Christian concerts, they travel great distances to hear Christian teacher and they even serve in the church. Yet, these people fail miserably when their integrity is measured.

These same Christian people will be found meaner than snakes at a church business meeting. They will gossip, hold grudges and outright hate other people as if they don't know the Lord at all. People are often shocked if they learn of these Christians personal lives. They may have pornography, excessive drinking or rampant gambling hidden from the public. Their marriages are horrible, their children know the truth about them and they are constantly worrying about how people perceive them.

What is wrong? They went to all the right places to learn of Jesus. They even have some knowledge of who He is. Yet, how can they continue to act like they don't know Him? Simple, they have failed to make the basic commitment to Christian growth. They have failed to take up their crosses.

The cross is an instrument of death. The condemned person was placed on the cross to slowly die. It took time before death set in. The person who takes up his or her spiritual cross will find death to self come slowly but surely. The cross is putting everything that self wants aside so that Christ may reign in you. It is dying to your love of anything or anyone in this world which will keep you from Christ's sovereignty in your life.

It is a struggle to stay on the cross. Some times the old self raises its head to claim you once more. It says that the cross is unnecessary. It says that you are doing more than most Christians anyway. It claims an allegiance to family or work or anything which the world says should be put before the Lord. It yells at you to get off the cross and live a good life.

However, the life is not good. The Christian who tries to live a good life is never satisfied in it. This good Christian will simply never grow much because he or she cannot be Jesus' disciple.

A disciple abides in His word. A disciple follows His commands. A disciple accomplishes much because the Lord is His strength. A disciple knows Him. A disciple loves like Him. A disciple becomes like Him. You can't be a disciple and grow into His likeness unless you take up your own cross.

A disciple doesn't seek pain. The only pain the cross brings is that of self denial. It doesn't mean that the person will hurt himself physically. Jesus gave no example of this. There are no stories of Him cutting, piercing or burning Himself to prove His devotion to His Father. His example is one of self denial; not self depreciation; not self flagellation. His pain came from His own self denial.

A disciple's cross may cause pain. It is brought upon him by his commitment to the Lord. It may mean that he will live in a mission where the comforts of America do not exist. It may mean that he will fast so that he might know his Lord's will. It may mean that he will give in such a way that he will miss comforts that he could have otherwise afforded.

The lack of a cross guarantees that the Christian will not become a disciple of Jesus. It guarantees the hindrance of Christian growth. It guarantees the Christian will continue to act like those who do not know the Lord.

The lack of taking up your own cross is the crucial failure for the Christian. It is the reason our churches are full of people who are empty.
Luke 14:26-27 (NIV)
26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. 27  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

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