“Whoever wants to be my disciple” (Matthew 16:24)

Promises.  Everybody makes them.  Some make them with good intentions of fulfilling them.  Some make promises with their fingers crossed, hoping they can fulfill them.  Boys make them to girls.  Girls make them to boys.  Spouses make them to one another.  Children make them to their parents.  And politicians, well let’s just say they are very good at making all kinds of empty promises.   

Then there are those who make promises that end up drawing others into danger.  Hitler promised to usher in a thousand-year kingdom of glory for the Aryan people, because he thought the people of Northern European decent were a superior race.  He ended up murdering six million jews.  Stalin promised a worker’s paradise on earth.  He ended up killing forty million Russians he thought disagreed with him, thought of disagreeing with him, or were related to someone who disagreed with him.  Mao, likewise, promised China a people’s paradise.  He ended up murdering forty-five million of his own people.

What exactly makes a Hitler?  Or a Stalin?  Or a Mao?  Why did these men make empty promises that brought about death and destruction?  What is it about these men who rather than producing a paradise for people, produced a hell?  The answer is simple.  Each of these men chose to make themselves their god, as well as the god of their people.  To do that they had to both deny and oppose the true and living God.  When someone denies God and glorifies themselves, the end is death and destruction for themselves and others; because the end of pride is always a fall and the end of godlessness is hell.  If God is not the center of every promise we make, then our promises are empty. 

Jesus Christ, on the other hand, never promises his people a paradise without a cross.  He clearly said, “If anyone would follow Me, let him deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34).  What Jesus promises doesn’t appear glorious when one first reads it.  But, if we do life his way, we will end up with fullness, joy, and an awesome paradise.  So, carry your cross because you can be assured that Jesus Christ’s promises will be fulfilled.