President’s Post: take Up Your Cross

The legacy of the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University, my friend, a pastor, mentor, public influencer and one whose impact is still felt all over our campus today and throughout the world, will be honored at the new Jerry Falwell Center: Inspiring Champions for Christ.

We are set to break ground on this massive project in the coming weeks. I am blessed to be at the helm of this great university during a time where Jerry Falwell Sr.’s life and legacy will be illustrated through creative design, stories and artifacts that will encourage others to emulate his dynamic faith and serve as a testament to how Liberty is preserving its mission.

But what makes Jerry Falwell Sr.’s faith stand out? The man was constantly in the public eye. He had so much influence, yet it did not come at the expense of his kindness, fairness and treatment of others that was born out of a deep love and commitment to Christ.

“Doc,” as many of us called him, was humble. Exercising humility is a challenge for anyone at any level of influence, but Jerry Falwell chased after Christ, desiring to spread the Gospel and bear the cross, choosing victory in the Lord over self. He displayed well what Christ meant when he said in Luke 9: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

It’s a popular passage, but often we look past the fierce challenge, commitment and charge that it carries out in the Great Commission.

“Take up his cross” is a reference to capital punishment during Roman times. When sentenced to death on a cross, the convict would literally carry their cross to their crucifixion just as Jesus did. To take up one’s cross illustrates an absolute terminal commitment to following Christ — despite any persecution we will face.

But such reckless abandonment of our own desires cannot be done without first understanding what the word “deny” means in this passage. It is not a passive action. Translated, it means the intentional, aggressive action of “cutting off from.”

And this is the point of the Gospel. Christ’s work on the cross enables us to be forgiven and justified before God.  We must believe by faith.  His grace and the work of the Holy Spirit enables us to put off the old self and, by faith, put on the new self.  He transforms us from death to life.

Similarly, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

To become a disciple of Jesus Christ you must look to His cross and trust in His accomplished work. The cost of discipleship means that you must now carry your own cross in obedience and faithfulness to Him.

Jerry Falwell Sr. knew what it meant to serve others in obedience to God. The denial of self and reliance on Christ is what made his legacy so powerful and enduring.  His story has inspired so many men and women who are serving the Lord throughout the world.

We are reminded continually that the Author and Perfector of our faith, Jesus Christ, has given us a living example of what it means to be a champion.  A true Champion for Christ does not live without burdens, but is a denier of self and a cross-bearer.

Prevo is the President of Liberty University.

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