I was reading a meditation these days, when i came across the following text:
All of us are under the obligation to deny self daily for Christ’s sake. Jesus says: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mt 16:24) “And whosoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (LK 14:27)
The expression “taking up his cross”, intrigued me. So, i wanted to know more about what it really means to take up our cross and follow Christ. What is this cross we have to bear? In the past, I’ve heard people referring to this act as comfort for an illness, a difficult situation, an inherited disability, a person, among others, but never agreed much with these definitions or applications. So I kept reading. I researched a bit more about the cross in the Bible, and, with some other references of another meditation and the Desire of Ages, of writer Ellen White, i better defined the concept.
First, with the texts and some prior knowledge, i established a list of possibilities for the meaning of the cross:
Other texts give us some more evidence:
His love was His only obligation, and without a murmur He endured all pain and received every indignity that were part of the plan of salvation.
Again the same word is used: endured. Endured pain and indignity.
Studying a little more about the life of Christ we have a greater light.
Jesus worked to relieve every case of suffering he saw. He had little money to give, but often deprived himself of food, in order to alleviate the need of those who seemed most in need Him.
Often, for being voluntary and not complaining, His work was made unnecessarily painful.
From childhood and youth to adulthood we notice that Jesus was distressed for two reasons. He helped others and cared about them more than Himself, and was repeatedly and incessantly put to the test in His conduct and integrity. He would give Himself to help those at His reach. His friends, siblings and teachers of the law were constantly trying to persuade and coerce Him to leave the right ways of God and adopt the principles created by men.
What then revealed to me more clearly the meaning of the cross was this text:
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: so shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man. (Prov. 3:1-4)
The allusion here to tie around the neck gives the idea of a weight, a burden, which brings me back to the cross. What Christ bore on earth was the Mercy and Truth. In these points He was distressed by the weight of responsibility and the fight. He gave himself unto others at any cost and walked in the ways of the Father. Mercy toward others and loyalty to the commandments and divine principles, ergo the truth, weighed on his back. He carried the cross to death. On the physical cross He bore the weight of the sin of all humanity, the anguish of the separation from the Father, and left for us to carry (as it was for Simon, Mat 27:32) the cross of mercy and truth.
I was interested in the last verse put i on the list, Hebrews 12:2. It shows the behavior and example of Christ to take up the cross. A mold that we must follow:
⁃ Christ is our leader “Fix our eyes on Jesus”
⁃ and example. “author and perfecter of our faith”
⁃ He, with his eyes on the prize, “who for the joy set with us in mind, and the glory of God before Him”
⁃ took the cross “endured the cross”
⁃ and won “scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”
Christ took the cross and won, giving us victory. So we already have the victory that we could not have were it not for Christ. The victory over sin and death. But we still have to fight, we still have to carry our cross. And even carrying the cross, which in Christ’s case it was even heavier, for the weight and great significance of saving all mankind, Christ gave us a mission to share with Him and an example of conduct. And i will let you decipher these words:
He carried the tremendous burden of responsibility for the salvation of men.
Full of passionate purpose, He fulfilled the goal of His life, in order to serve as a light to men.
We all have highs and lows in life. Our walk with God sometimes, unfortunately, is no different. We are in a constant battle between good and evil, right and wrong. Most times, after a victory or when you feel confident, something bad happens or you loose a battle, you fall. So there are two ways of looking at this fact.
1. After a victory, when we gain confidence, the enemy comes to us with even greater force and throws us down, as if to say: “you think the victory’s won? I’m still here. I rule this world. I’m going to win you over. You can’t win.”
2. God know that hard times are coming. In His mercy, He gives us a victory and shows that He is with us, so we can endure the fall that will come next.
Notice that there are many other implications in both views, like how God teaches us, human suffering, Christ’s victory in the cross and final victory over sin and satan in His resurrection, God’s grace, God’s justice and mercy, etc…. there are many other concepts here, but i will try only to focus on these two presented above, trying to somewhat abstract the others.
So, which one is the real way that things happen? Well, both. But you will give focus to one or another, or you can see both at the same time. What happens is that, when God gives us a victory our confidence tends to shift to ourselves. Often, in the infatuation with the victory, we allow that to happen. Without keeping watch on ourselves, in our own sinful nature, we begin to trust ourselves and try to go on on our own power. That’s when satan comes at us and we invariably fall. God, once again in His mercy, invites us to come back and shift our confidence and dependence once again to Him. He shows us that Christ already won and gave us the victory for free. We have no strength, but are already victorious if we are anchored in Him. But since God gave us victory, we do not need to fall. It’s true that many times we do fall, but tough times don’t mean we need to fall. If we continue trusting and relying on Him, He will be victorious for us. We just need to submit ourselves to God, RESIST the devil and he will flee from us. [James 4:7]
It’s interesting how sometimes a cup half empty is also a cup half full… it just depends how you look at it. How are you looking at your life? How would you rather look at it?
i understand and agree that God gives talents to everyone. He calls each member of the church to work in a specific area with a specific goal, as a family member and as a part of the body of Christ. He calls us to action according to our personality and potentialities. But are there some kinds of work that were made for all? Some jobs that every christian should do at least once? That everyone should contribute and learn from? …