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Pick up YOUR cross

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.”

-- Words of Jesus, Mark 8


It just Hit me:
If the cross I carry isn't big enough for me to be crucified on, I've probably picked up the wrong cross.

You could stop reading and reflect on that for a week. The implications of which will kick your rear. For more explanation carry on. I'll say it again.

If the cross I carry isn't big enough for me to be crucified on, I've probably picked up the wrong cross.

We live at a time when even obeying Jesus doesn't even have to feel risky let alone dangerous. We can get compensated for everything we do. We can tell the world of every good deed we have done. We can get a pat on the back for doing even the most basic of things that SHOULD come standard with the Christian walk. We can do all of this AND get rewarded!

I just finished reading several articles written by Benthany Hoang of the International Justice Mission Institute. In one of them entitled "Picture Justice" Bethany points out that we're called by Jesus in the passage referenced above to "Pick us OUR cross and follow Him."

Nothing new. That sounds so poetic. So pithy. So "bumper-sticker-ish". But the implications are so dangerous, so frightening and so nerve racking. Where exactly WAS Jesus headed when he said those words? Golgotha. "The Place of the Skull". Bethany says "Golgotha is where Jesus is headed, and it is therefore precisely this neighborhood – the neighborhood of Golgotha – that is our own destination when we make the decision to follow Jesus." Jesus was headed to the neighborhood of death and destruction. He wasn't headed to a Christian book store wearing a cross as a necklace. He was carrying the cross which was the means upon which he would die to self for the benefit of humanity.

I got to thinking about 'picking up my cross' and what that implies. It implies that "my cross" would be large enough for me to die on. I get the feeling that many of us hear that phrase and we shop for a cross like shopping for a pair of shoes at Footlocker or Nordstrom. We search for fashion over function. Is this what Jesus meant?

Jesus told us to pick up a cross so we know it's part of the deal that comes with Salvation that we must carry one but does it really have to be one large enough for us? Does it have to be something that is so bulky that it gets in the way? Does it have to be so heavy as to make me sweat? Can I get away with obeying Jesus and making a fashion statement at the same time? What would a dinner party look like if everywhere I go my cross has to come with me?

Couldn't "My" cross be something a little more manageable? Maybe "MY" cross could be something I could wear more like a back pack? Better yet, could the cross "I SELECT" be something about the size of a football or a purse(for ladies)? Ohh, I got it... "MY" cross could be more the size of a necklace. I can carry my cross for the world to see and barely even know it's there. Now that sounds like a compromise. "That's a win-win Jesus."

I wonder out loud. "How many of us aren't remotely close to experiencing the fullness of life promised us because we are carrying around a cross designed to fit a Barbie doll?"

We can know when our cross is made-to-order because it is large enough to be the very thing that could take our lives. What is it? It is that burden, that passion, that undeniable God-given drive within us that will not relent, will not be silent, will not back down until we've seen Jesus. What is that area that we will live and die for in the name of Jesus that only God Himself has given us? What is MY cross?

We're much too easily pleased. We truly are (as Piper often says) too easily satisfied. We are not consumed with anything but self. In the meantime we walk around with our heads down feeling unfulfilled as we whine about our circumstance and our present life. If only while our heads were down we would look around and find OUR cross. That thing that is so big it could be the tool to lead to our own downfall.

What is your cross? What is your burden? Is there a people who do not know the name of Jesus whom God has called you? Is there a purpose for which the Kingdom does not care because you are its voice box? Who are you supposed to tell about Jesus? Who is thirsty and needs a drink? Who is hungry and needs your lunch bag? Who is mourning who needs your shoulder to carry tears? What is YOUR cross? Is the thing you're doing right now big enough to kill you? Is it all encompassing? Or are you stuck in a rut because long ago your passion outlasted your supposed mission? Did you pick up an easy and unfulfilling use of your life?

Yank off that Christian cross from your neck and get down on your knees begging God for that vision, that passion and that drive for which he's uniquely wired you. That missionary who needs your help, that church plant that needs a man or woman like you, that child who needs you to adopt them, that homeless shelter that exists only in your mind, that foreign people group who needs to hear the name of Jesus, those teenage girls held captive by perverts, that family member who wants to know about Jesus but to whom you're too afraid to speak His name.

Pick up your cross. The one intended for you. The one that only you can carry and that weighs so much you will need the help of others much as Jesus in the flesh needed human hands to help. Take that cross and march toward Golgotha and away from the wasted life of retirement and a cruise. Find the cross you were meant to carry and carry it with boldness and strength for you were made to be more than a Christian bookstore manikin. You were made to bring God glory by doing what he prepared in advance for YOU to do.


posted by Tally Wilgis @ Tuesday, October 14, 2008

1 Comments:

At 5:01 PM, Blogger Mia said...

wow. that is excellent stuff. maybe i should have you write these devotions i'm working on. by the way, i sent the email and it wasn't even 5 pm yet!

 

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