The Christian life is not an easy life. Jesus does call us to rest in Him, to take His burden which is lighter than any other. But Jesus calls us to follow Him, and in order to follow Him, we must deny ourselves and take up the cross. Now we have heard this many times. We say it frequently, but this must translate into real denial and real sacrifice or we are kidding ourselves. Of course everyone wants to be a hero. Maybe some of us would even dream of being a real live martyr. But there’s a million or so deaths that Jesus calls us to every day that no one really wants to submit to. Men would prefer not to take responsibility for their families and lovingly lead them. It’s easier to go home and collapse on the couch. Women would prefer not to respect their husbands. It’s easier to be critical and point out all the ways he could do better. Children would prefer not to obey their parents and honor them. It’s easier to slouch through the day, just getting by, flying under the radar, doing the bare minimum to stay out of trouble. We would prefer not to discipline and teach our children. It’s time consuming, it messes with our schedule and plans, and sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s even working. We would prefer not to have to meet new people, invite our neighbors over for dinner, or invite an unbelieving coworker to church. It’s awkward, embarrassing, and could go badly. I’m just not up to it, we say. Those are not my gifts, we say. But the Christian life is not an easy life. Jesus did not call people to follow Him so that all their preferences are met. Following Jesus means denying self, denying what you want, denying what you may want very badly. And not only does it mean denial, putting down, giving up what you love, it then means embracing the cross. And the cross means obedience in faith, obedience and faith even to the point of death. And in only that sort of death is there hope of resurrection and glory.