Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The words of our Lord: "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24)
These words of our Lord fly in the face of popular "Christian" thinking because in these words the Lord tells you to deny yourself. The world, and what passes as "Christian" preaching and teaching encourages quite the opposite. Maybe it has something to do with the pioneering spirit of American individuality, or maybe not. I don't know. But one thing is for sure. We have been taught that God wants for me, what I want for me, and when life doesn't bring with it what I would expect, well, then, God must be mad at me.
But the Lord's teaches us a different reality. The Lord's teaches us that our life will reflect his life in that it will involve a cross, self-denial, and eventually death. The Christian should not expect to receive the treasures of heaven in this life, for we are to store up treasures in heaven. Quite the contrary, the one who follows Jesus lives by faith, bearing the crosses that the Lord lays upon him, but trusting that on the Last Day, Christ's resurrection would be manifested as our own. What he has already received in His glorious body and His Father's kingdom, will become our eternal inheritance.
Until that day, we cling to God's promises, and trust that our temporal crosses will prepare us for the life that awaits us in eternity. This, my friends, is the cruciform (cross-like) life--the Christan's life. Amen.