What differentiates a genuine Christian from one whose religion is only skin-deep? Jesus said that He knows those who are His. He calls them His sheep who hear His voice and follow Him. (John 10:27) He also called them His disciples. He gave us the requirements for being His disciple in Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23 where he said that if anyone desires to follow Him they must deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him. If we combine these two views then we learn that our Lord’s sheep, His disciples, are those who hear His voice, deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him. This is telling us that genuine Christians are those who humble themselves before their Lord, die to self, submit to His Lordship, obey Him, and emulate Him as He leads.
Jesus never said that we are to die for Him, but we are to lay down our lives for Him. Which is easier? It’s much easier to die than it is to lay one’s life down daily with the sense of the high calling while living very ordinary lives. No matter how much we want to do some grand, magnificent work for our Lord, the reality is that we are called to walk in His light in very ordinary ways. Jesus is our example. His ministry was one long journey of Him emptying Himself of His glory to come into this demon-infested world to live a sinless life, and then lay that life down for His sheep. During His ministry there was only one glorious moment. That was on the Mount of Transfiguration. However, He then emptied Himself of His glory and returned to His mission to redeem those for whom He came to die.