Thursday, February 27, 2014

Take Up Your Cross

"It's my cross to bear in life."
"Take up your cross and carry it."

As I've often previously disclosed, I am not a theologian; just a woman who ponders things and delves into them. So, everything you read here is as close to biblical truth as I can get, but often my opinion, and so being, may or may not be right (sounds like a disclaimer, doesn't it?)

In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus told His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." 

What does it mean to "take up our cross?" Does it mean we are to suffer for the sake of Christ? Does it mean we are expected to suffer? Is it okay for us to have "a cross to bear?" I'm not so sure. 

In the Roman Empire, a convicted criminal, when taken to be crucified, was forced to carry his own cross. This showed publicly that he was then under and submissive to the rule he had been opposing. Likewise Jesus' disciples must demonstrate their submission to the One against whom they had rebelled. The path Jesus and his followers would travel would be a road of sorrow and suffering. But in so losing one's life, one would truly find a better life (The Bible Commentary, Walvoord/Zuck).

So, when we take up our cross, are we doing so in order to suffer? This difficulty we will live with our whole lives---is it truly "our cross to bear?" Yes, following Jesus will often bring us suffering and heartache; sorrow and difficulty. But is that really what it means?

When I take up my cross, am I accepting difficulty, sorrow and suffering in life and "offering it up to Christ" or am I submitting to the authority of Christ, as the Roman Empire law dictated? Am I following Him to my place of crucifixion or am I following Him in obedience and submission, having once rebelled against Him? Am I accepting this situation as my lot in life, my cross to bear, following in His suffering or am I giving up my life as I know it, as I want it, and accepting the life He desires for me? 

I think it's important not to leave out two important words..."deny himself." We are instructed to deny ourselves before we take up our cross and follow Him. For if I lose my life for His sake, I will save it. Does "losing my life" mean I am to carry my cross to my place of crucifixion and die? Didn't He do that for me? Or, does it perhaps mean that I take up my cross, the manner of which I am to die to self, the manner of which I am to deny myself, and come under His authority? Before I pick up that cross, before I make the choice to follow Him, I must first deny myself. I must look upward instead of inward.

I think these are good questions that I don't have an answer for. But I also think it may be something that we often take out of context. I'd love to know what you think. 

Yes, we will suffer in this life. We will have sorrow. We will have difficulty. And when we do, He is there with us. He carries us through it. Is it really up to us to carry so much burden when we have a Savior who desires to carry it for us?

Blessings Along the you carry your cross...

Song of the Day
Carry Me (Audrey Assad)

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