The Christian’s Cross

Joan of arc burning at stake
“It is a real cross when you begin to follow Jesus. They are Christ’s terms. Nothing I have said is quite so hard as the words He uttered. Unless you hate father, mother, wife, children, brethren, sisters; unless you put every other love, every other interest in the background and Christ in the foreground, you cannot be His disciple. So help me God, I will not tone down my Master’s message. I will not make this thing for my heart and yours one bit smoother than He made it. Take up your cross-not Christ’s. You cannot take up Christ’s cross. He took it up alone, and in the mystery of it made it possible for you to take yours and find the virtue of His; but you must take up your own,”- G. Campbell Morgan, The Terms of Discpleship.

It is easy to be a Christian on Sunday mornings. It is a piece of cake to be a Christian one night during the week. It is cliche to be a Christian on Christmas. And it is expected for one to be a Christian at Easter. But how about a Christian sitting in 5 o’clock traffic? What about a Christian when asked to serve your wife by taking out the trash? Or a Christian when others around you are gossiping about someone else? How about a Christian watching the Super Bowl, or a Christian playing a sport? Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple,” (Luke 14:26-27). And he said this to “great crowds,” (v. 25). Why great crowds? Because many are interested in Him but few will follow where He leads when the cost becomes clear. Jesus is honest, and for that I need to praise Him. There are no false pretenses here, no tiny, unreadable fine print. Essentially Jesus says to great crowds, “If your love for me doesn’t trump, put to shame, and outshine your love for anything else, yes, even make your love for your closest relationships and love for yourself look like hate, then you cannot be my disciple.” Which means that supreme devotion and love must be directed towards Him, and that supreme love and devotion filters in to every area of life, that’s why the aspect of the cross comes after the statement about family relationships. When Christ begins invading us and our lives, we will be persecuted, and suffering will commence. Our sin will react. It will rear its head and fight hard against us, as a trapped, frightened dog, aware of its certain death, fights viciously. That’s the internal persecution. Others will begin to see the radical nature of our faith (the turning off of t.v during certain commercials, the helping up of a teammate off the ground in a sport) and we will lose popularity, be ridiculed and scoffed at. Perhaps we will loose even our lives. There’s the external persecution. And Christians suffer. This is the daily cross. But what makes this bearable, what makes this suffering worthwhile? Jesus uses the cross for a reason. See, He took the ultimate cross, up the ultimate hill, to the ultimate suffering, and gained the ultimate victory. For God’s people, Christ has already won the victory over our own sin and promises to do away with it. God’s people are forgiven, counted righteous, and a war has begun within them to eradicate the remaining sin. The Spirit is fighting hard and will win. Christ has also triumphed over all principalities that can externally persecute. When He comes again, God’s enemies will be finally crushed. So, today, as I might have put down my cross because I had forgotten the great victory that has been won, and have believed the lies that people are gods, and that God is not God, that my sin is god and that Jesus isn’t, i can pick it up once again and face the suffering, because my Savior has gone before me and promised me rest and victory.

All the way my Savior leads me;
what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way.

– Fanny Crosby

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