The way we respond to desperate circumstances often clarifies what gives us hope. Jesus’ followers faced the very real threat of death by choosing to follow Him—something He warns them about: “And summoning the crowd together with his disciples, he said to them,‘If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life on account of me and of the gospel will save it’ ”(Mark 8:34–35).
In Jesus’ time, “taking up the cross” would have been associated with a shameful death at the hands of the ruling Roman powers. To risk suffering this type of shameful death required more than lukewarm commitment.
Jesus doesn't limit this calling to His disciples; anyone who “wants to come after” faces this uncertainty and must hold a faith that displays this loyalty. For some Christians today, following Jesus means opposition and death. For most of …