Seven Wonders of the Word
Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Ok, I am guilty of this too… but how often do we talk about bearing a cross when all we are really talking about are the troubles and struggles of our daily lives? “Oh that, _________ (fill in the blank, with a malady, troublesome person, or issue of our own) I guess that is just my cross to bear.”
Very often that isn’t cross bearing, that is the exact opposite! When Christ calls to us he asks that we deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to follow him. This isn’t something that happens to us, it isn’t something that is put upon us, it is something we choose to do each day as followers of the risen Christ.
Back when I was in middle school, I overheard a conversation, when I was in the Art room in the basement of the old Stoughton Middle School. Back in the corner there was a project, it was sort of built into the corner of the room, it was something you could get into, like a time machine or spaceship or something, it was a place where you could let your imagination run wild! Anyway, I was inside this thing and I doing I have no idea what, but I do remember two adults talking outside the door, they most likely didn’t know I was listening or that I was even inside this thing. But I vaguely remember one of them saying “you know they say they have to go to school, when in all reality, they GET to go to school, they have so many opportunities!”
I would like to report to you that the statement turned my world upside down and I became a dedicated student who realized what a blessing his education was. I didn’t. Well at least for years to come, eventually I came to see it this way, but there was um… much grief in the mean time!
My point is this, we GET to take up our crosses, we GET to follow Jesus. Cross bearing isn’t done for yourself, it is done for the sake of others. That is why Christ bore the cross in the first place, he didn’t do it to show what a holy person he was, he didn’t do it because he had to, it was done out of love for all people and for all people.
Bonhoeffer wrote “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die” To the world this sounds as utter nonsense. Who would die on purpose, who would die so that you might have life, it makes no sense. But in Christ, this death is the only way to be fully who we are, to die to ourselves so that we might be who God created us to be in the first place. In essence we when we die this way, we are made more fully alive, we have the abundant life that God intends for us to have. Even as we choose to pick up our crosses, we don’t go it alone, we do it with Christ who has shown us the way and walks with us each day. We do it with the body of Christ around us, even Christ on the way to the cross had someone help him carry that cross. It is in this life together, bearing our crosses, and being helped by others so that we might reach out and love others and in so doing help them bear their crosses, it is in this intersection that we find our true calling, we find life in the midst of dying to self, we find life in the face of death, we find the fullness of who we are in for the sake of others in Christ Jesus our Lord.