Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 19 of Lent :: Embracing the Cross

Then He (Jesus) said to them all:
“Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and
take up their cross daily and follow Me.”

(Luke 9:23 TNIV)

Then He told them what they could expect for themselves: 

“Anyone who intends to come with Me has to let Me lead.  

You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. 
Don’t run from suffering; embrace it.  

Follow Me and I’ll show you how.” 

(Luke 9:23 MSG)

We all have a cross to bear is a phrase used by different people in various ways, mostly as pseudo-comfort to someone who is whining about some circumstance or situation.   Jesus, however, did have a cross to bear.  His cross purchased forgiveness of sins for all who receive it.  It was an act of surrender and selfless sacrifice.  Through Christ’s bearing His cross, a means for sins to be forgiven is extended to all humanity.  While our small sacrifices will not result in the forgiveness of sins, they do often serve to reach the world around us.  As we daily learn the art of surrender and discover what it means to take up my cross and follow Christ, we take on the very nature of Christ.

Carrying one’s cross has nothing to do with a contrived self-mutilation or submission to difficulty or misfortune.  It is not about going through life with an apathetic que será será, whatever will be, will be, resignation to the challenges of life. On the contrary, carrying one’s cross has everything to do with an active, attentive, joy-filled abandonment to doing the will of Christ.  Denying one’s self is not self-abasement, but rather a radical reorientation of one’s priorities in life.  To fulfill Christ’s will does, however, mean placing the concerns of God’s Kingdom before the pursuit of our own personal kingdoms that are built on our own security, possessions, status, and power.  The world in which we live looks at a Christ-follower lifestyle as ridiculous, but to lean solely on Christ is the apex of wisdom.  The world sees the way of the cross as ultimate weakness, but it is the greatest source of strength.

Prayer: “Father God, I want to be a person who has the courage to trust Christ with everything that I am and ever hope to be.  As I go through my day(s), show me any area where I am trusting in my own accomplishments, intellect, education, status, position, or perceived importance to find my security, rather than in You alone. I am grateful for all that You have given me in this life, but may these things not be what define me.  May I truly learn what it means to deny myself, take up my cross daily and follow You.”

“The cross is laid on every Christian. 

The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience

is the call to abandon the attachments of this world.”[i] 

(Dietrick Bonhoeffer)

[i] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, 89.

No comments: