Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:27
In this season we are constantly surrounded by heart-shaped chocolate boxes, pink teddy bears, roses, and glittering diamond ads. Is love really all about material things? Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely to get a nice heart-felt gift and a romantic date with the one you love, but it seems like there’s something missing here. Can diamonds and chocolates really make for a golden anniversary-type romance or is that all just for show?
In the Fall of 1941 near Peggs, Oklahoma a couple wed on their 4th date. That couple, Hugh and Ruby, my grandparents, were married just short of 67 years when my grandma passed. I do not remember one time they gave each other a gift that was just for pure enjoyment, certainly never roses. My grandpa did not shower my grandma with diamonds, that’s for sure. You see, love is more about discipline and dedication than about all those expensive gifts.
In Matthew 16 Jesus said to his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?” Taking up your cross does not mean carrying a heavy burden. When a prisoner carried their cross they were on their way to be crucified (death penalty); basically a walking dead man. Jesus asks us to lay down our old sinful selves to dedicate our lives to following him. To deny yourself is to have DISCIPLINE to the one you love, Jesus.
Similarly when you are in a romantic relationship, friendship, familial relationship, any relationship founded out of love you must dedicate yourself to it or it will slowly wither. Love is not about a date on the calendar (btw guys it’s this Friday!). It is about a lifetime of phone calls, “I love yous,” hand-holding, pats on the back, family dinners, shared laughter. Love is being disciplined enough to make the time to spend with those special people in your life. There will be storms. That’s guaranteed when you make this kind of investment, but the benefits of true love far outweigh the struggles.
So you may not have that one person in your life, but you have the everlasting, never-ending, crazy-love God that can’t get enough of you. He looks down on you in your discipline of love and he gasps with excitement at your efforts to reciprocate His love.