"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'" Matt 16:24
There are many who claim to be followers of Christ. There are fewer who understand the true meaning of such a claim. In truth, being a true follower of Christ involves much that is counter intuitive to most people. Though this scripture is certainly not an exhaustive list of requirements, consider what the Lord is saying specifically to those who were actively following him at the the time.
First, he speaks of selflessness. It is natural for us to think of self first and others second. Jesus is advocating a life of service, forgiveness, love and sharing. The scriptures are replete with advisements and commands to treat others better than self. Jesus models this when he relates that he came to serve rather than to be served.
Second, we must be willing to sacrifice. When one thinks of the cross, it is difficult to think of anything else but the fact that it is the place that Jesus gave it all that we might have a way to be reconciled to the Father. In order to be a true follower of his, we must likewise be willing to lead sacrificial lives. Paul elaborates on this concept when he says, "I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" Rom 12:1. As he gave his life for us, we must be willing to give our lives to him.
Lastly beloved, we must not be followers of Christ in just word, but also in deed. This simply means to be obedient to his commands and to follow his example. His command is to love God with everything we have and to love others as ourselves. His example was to humble himself, take responsibility for others and to serve, even by washing dirty feet. How many of us would "lower" ourselves to the very heights of his performance? Let us carefully consider these things because therein lies true follow-ship and fellowship with Him who made us.
Rejoicing in the Lord,