Christians believe Jesus Christ died for everyone on a Cross.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Mark 8:34

I grew up in church, so there was never a time in my life without Jesus. While I am ever thankful for family that reinforced the love of Christ from an early age, I think it can sometimes make a verse like this difficult to fully comprehend without additional reflection.

Jesus provides an open invitation to fellowship, which on the surface sounds like something a “church kid” would have been part of their entire life. Once you dig a bit deeper, though, you can see that Jesus had some pretty specific requirements for those that accepted the invitation.

Deny himself – The Greek verb aparneomai is used here, meaning to disavow or disown completely. This goes beyond denying ourselves of “things” in a very literal sense. Rather, we should say no to our own self-seeking, and instead say yes to the poor, the lonely and the sick.

Take up his cross – To take up our cross represents a crucifixion of self, not in terms of self-annihilation but instead allowing it to redefine and transform us.

Follow me – When we respond to Christ’s call, we fully commit ourselves to changing our hearts; we strive to walk as he walked.

True fellowship with Jesus is more than just saying we are Christians or members of a parish. It requires a total transformation of self, and a commitment to something beautiful and radically different. This Advent season, I hope you will take time to consider what true fellowship with Jesus looks like for you.

Missy Ellison