Wow, here it is almost 2 months after I started this article and I’m finally finishing it. I can usually knock out a decent blog in a couple of hours and sometimes that bleeds over to a couple of days if I don’t like the quality of the information. Why has it taken me months to get this one out? Confusion and frustration mixed together is the reason why. I could not get my brain engaged and wrapped around this topic to make it flow and make sense and yet get everything in it I was trying to portray. I was completely gung-ho on cranking this one out and after about an hour and one paragraph later, I was utterly stumped. Stopped dead in my tracks.
I wasn’t sure where to go with this one. I was struggling because it sat there in my draft pile just collecting time on it and instead of just deleting it, I let it sit there slapping me in the face every time I went to my drafts folder. What’s wrong with me? I could have ended this relationship a long time ago but instead I allowed it to beat up my ego and strip me to my mental core each and every time.
Then it happened – bells and whistles, lights flashing and the brain freeze was over. And it all happened while sitting at church on a Sunday morning as the sermon was all about a cross to bear. I sat there in bewilderment wondering if this was my sign to sit down and finish this blog. So with that, I’m going to share with you a little bit of yesterday’s sermon and will then put some of my thoughts into words.
Do we all have a cross to bear? The answer is, yes we do. First we must know what that cross is. The cross is usually referred to as some type of burden? Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me”. This is where we get the expression, everyone has a cross to bear. So what is the burden you ask. We all know we are not going to carry a 100 pound wooden cross around with us everywhere we go, every day. Just not gonna happen.
The minister started out by showing across the board how much a majority of the people in the world want to be part of a winning team. As in Matthew 16:17-18, Peter was pretty much the winner when Christ said to him, “you are blessed Simon son of John (Peter), because my father in heaven has revealed this to you.” And as the minister indicated how important Peter must have felt at this point. This takes us to the second point, that not just being part of a winning team but we end up wanting the reward without the work. We see this in Peter when Christ talks about being killed and Peter pulls him aside and indicates to him that he shouldn’t be talking like this. A winning team never speaks in negatives. The next line is classical as Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Get away from me, Satan!” All Christ was saying was, “Peter your way of thinking is human and not of God. Christ knew there was still the element of human thinking and selfishness in this exchange of words. Christ knew what had to happen and when he shared this, it was disappointing for his disciples as they felt they were no longer a part of a winning team but one of doom and gloom.
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? Matthew 16:26.
The Burden: Christ delivers the message when he says, “let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24. By taking up the cross, you must first deny yourself. Deny that winning team, deny that wicked way of life you are living, deny that part of the world that you just can’t let go of, deny something you are doing that God doesn’t want you to do.
The Analogy: The 100 pound cross is much lighter than the pain and suffering your burden will lay upon your heart. Why do so many people commit suicide or why do they kill others out of hate or why are so many conflicted and struggle to cope with life? Drugs, alcohol, pornography, hatred, lying, cheating, etc… Why? It’s because they cannot deny themselves. Yet Christ has given the promise that all you have to do is deny yourself and take up your cross and follow him.
I see it every day, the pain, suffering, hatred, anger, frustration, confusion, jealousy, sadness, it’s all around me. Hell, I even live it from day to day. We all do and don’t you dare say you don’t. It’s life and this is what we are tasked with managing. Remember, everybody falls short of the glory of God. None are without sin. Does this mean we are all condemned to Hell? No, absolutely not. It merely means we cannot get into the graces of God without denying ourselves and bearing our own cross.
CARRY YOUR CROSS: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20.