Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Take Up Your Cross
In Luke 9:23, Jesus tells His disciples that if anyone wants to come after Him, they need to take up their cross. This had to be such a strange thing for the disciples to hear, but I would contend that we here in America aren't very sure of what this means as well. The cross was a symbol of shame and reproach - what does that look like for us today?
As I picture a criminal carrying his cross to the location where he will be crucified, I see the people clearing the streets to stay out of his way. Most turn their faces, but some would have the boldness to hurl insults at this man, maybe even spit on him. He was a vile man who deserved death. Some would cheer at this picture of justice, but everyone knew exactly what kind of man would be carrying a cross - one who deserved death.
In the beatitudes in Luke 6, Jesus said (v.22,23): "Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven..." This is a description of our call.
A friend of mine had a brother in flight training for the Air Force. During his flight training, he was flying with an instructor who was not allowed to speak, only observe. As he descended to land, just seconds before touchdown, the instructor told him to pull out of the landing. Once back in the air, the instructor told him that he hadn't put down the landing gear. This devastated the young rookie, but apparently it was a mistake others had made. From that point forward, his punishment for forgetting the landing gear was to carry with him everywhere he went a large tire. He slung it over his shoulder during class, at the mess hall, in the shower and even in bed. Everywhere. Until someone new forgot their landing gear, he would carry this tire.
He carried it for about 2 weeks before it was given to the next rookie. But for those two weeks, he bore the shame of his actions. Anyone who saw him, knew without asking why he was carrying that huge tire around.
It is this type of life we are called to live - one that insights a response by onlookers. People should see us coming a mile away and know that we are not of this world. And when we wear our lordship on our sleeve, we need to understand that it will be an offense to most.
Questions for you:
*If you believe in the creation account of the Bible, are you mocked or respected?
*If you pursue the calling of mother and wife, are you considered simple minded and ignorant?
*If you tithe when times are tight, does your family and friends think less of you?
*If you choose to keep silent and leave room for the wrath of God, does the world think you are weak?
*Are you tagged as the party pooper because you don't watch certain television shows or laugh at off color jokes?
*Are you considered narrow minded and naive because you literally interpret the bible?
We are called to take up our cross - we are called to bear the shame and reproach of giving our lives to Jesus Christ - we are called to be a light in a dark world which loves the darkness and hates the light - we are called to be the salt of the earth, preserving godliness until the return of Christ.
Can you see any cross-bearing evidence in your own life? Hang in there...there's more to come...