November 8 I Tuesday
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” —John 8:32
Apart from a life of love that characterizes a disciple of Jesus Christ, it is also a life of liberty. Jesus teaches this by talking about bondage. He says, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27). When we consider the cross, we probably think of Jesus as our Substitute, who satisfied the just wrath of God, and we are united with Him in His death by His resurrection. This, however, was not what Jesus’s disciples would have understood at that time. Although Jesus was telling them that He would go to the cross, they did not believe Him. They were not thinking in theological terms, but in practical terms. Living under Roman authority, it was not uncommon to see a man go down the road carrying his cross. For this man, his rights were all gone, his life was not his own and he would never come back, because he was going to die.
Many of us play our lives safely; we have regulations that prevent anything happening that might hurt us a teeny bit. But being a disciple of Jesus is not some kind of a hobby or a part-time fair-weather exercise. We are not going to live the life of a disciple until we are willing to take risks.
Chinese pastor Samuel Lamb lived a life of risk. Over his lifetime, he spent a total of 23 years in prison. During those imprisonments, he was tortured and beaten. Yet, he delighted in suffering and said, “Persecution is good!” Why? “More persecution equals more growth!” He explained, “We had 200 people in my church, and they put me in prison for two years. When I came back, there were 700 or so.” In his obituary, he was quoted saying, “We must be prepared to suffer. We must be prepared for the fact that we may be arrested. Before I was sent to prison, I already prepared a bag with some clothes, shoes and a toothbrush. When I had to go to the police station, I could just pick it up. I was ready.”
Of course, we do not go looking for suffering. There is no virtue in suffering as an end in itself, but as a means to an end. Unless we take up our cross and align ourselves with Jesus, no matter what it costs or where it takes us—even if it means the death of ourselves—we cannot be His disciple. The paradox is that this bondage leads to liberty. When we lock our lives into the life, the agenda and the purposes of the Lord Jesus Christ, we find liberty.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You that I find liberty in You—freedom from sin, eternal separation from God. I choose to pick up my cross and follow You. Even if it leads to suffering, I will follow You, Jesus.