For the disciples that heard these words of Jesus, the cross was an instrument of execution, not a piece of jewelry. They had to be shocked and confused by the statement. In essence, Jesus was telling them to take up an instrument of death and follow Him. How does a physician do that?
Early in my medical career, I encountered a surgeon who would “kiddingly” say that his middle name was God. He was brash, self-confident, self-centered, and obnoxious. He had an associate though who was exactly the opposite. He was quiet, yet self-assured and confident, and an amazing surgeon. Just what I would expect of a surgeon who was a believer.
Daily the world brings us opportunities to place our worth and identity in what we do as physicians. We are strongly tempted to feel worthwhile because we can make a difference in the lives of our patients. And it is so easy to draw our identity from being a physician because after all, that’s what people call us… Dr.
One way we can take up the cross is by daily dying to those temptations and instead placing our worth and identity upon the fact that we are sons and daughters of God. In truth, we have worth and identity, not because of what we do, but because of who we are… adopted family members of the Creator of the universe!
When Jesus talks about taking up our cross and following Him, He is not referring to a one-time decision but about a way of life. Jesus calls us to actively die to ourselves, our constant desire for recognition, and instead look to Him to supply all our needs. It is a daily, often hourly struggle. But as we are successful in taking up His cross, His peace encompasses us, and we experience the joyful abundant life.
Prayer: Lord, I am tempted daily to turn my eyes from you and accept the world’s lie that my worth and identity come from my work as a physician. Help me resist that temptation and remember that You alone are the true source of my worth and identity. Amen.