Luke 9 gives us fair warning that our turn towards Christ is not an easy one, but is very rewarding.
Jesus said that if anyone decides to follow Him, then they must deny themselves. This is no simple task. As men and women, our nature is to supply ourselves, not deny ourselves! Our comfort comes from the things that we have earned, earthly things that we have either been bought or given. The greatest comfort of most people is that of family, the comfort we have felt since birth. Following Christ does not always mean that these things can come with us.
He also said that to follow Christ is to take up our cross daily. In this day and age, we cannot fathom how difficult it would have been to take up our own cross. It would be difficult to know that we are destined to die, following an angry mob that we knew would drive hard, cold spikes through our hands and our feet, and that we would hang there on the cross as the blood drained from our bodies in the harsh, painful heat of the sun. Yet it would be even more difficult to decide on our own that we should carry this cross of death to help the angry mob move it! Yet Christ does not ask us to do this once in a lifetime to prove our devotion to Him -- He asks us to daily do this!
Jesus gives words of wisdom that are so simple yet so unbelievably difficult: "whoever would save their life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it."
Though some mistakenly assume Christ is speaking of martyrdom, Jesus has just finished saying that we must do this daily! We only have one life to give, not many, and we cannot lose our lives in the earthly sense on a daily basis. He is speaking in a heavenly sense! Our hearts and minds must be completely lost from the things of this world. If we were asked to sell every single thing we have had, strongly against the wishes of our families, knowing our friends would never speak to us again, simply to tell another about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, would we do it? If we could save one single soul by completely destroying our own lives, would we do it? Yet Christ says that this is how we can save our own lives!
Our treasures are not stored up in this world. Many use this term very loosely and would never give everything they had to save one lost soul. Yet to do this is salvation! Jesus asks, "What profit do you have if you can acquire everything in the entire world, if you lose your own soul while you do it?"
Any person who is unwilling to do this is ashamed of Christ. Jesus said that when the Son of Man comes into His Glory, and also the glory of the Father, that same Son of Man will be ashamed of this unwilling heart in front of His Father!
Jesus spoke of things spiritual, not of things earthly. Treasures stored up in heavenly places. Losing our own lives daily. Saving their own lives daily when they lose them. He told them that there were some standing among Him that would not taste death at all until they see the kingdom of God! Even among His own, there were the unwilling!
As Christians, we should ask ourselves: Are we the willing, or are we the unwilling? Are our treasures here on earth, or are our hearts and minds focused on heavenly goals? If we were asked to sell our cars, houses, televisions, gaming systems, everything we had -- just to buy a plane ticket and lodging to go to the jungles of the Amazon to save one lost soul, knowing that we may never return again, would we do it? Are we ashamed of Christ?