Summary: Christians who carry their crosses win the attention of the world.
Sermon: "CROSS ROADS" Rev. D. Anderson
Jer. 15:15-21; Ro. 12:1-8; Matthew 16:21-26
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These words of our Lord which I am about to
read again are not very popular within our
self-indulgent generation: "If anyone would
come after me, he must deny himself and take
up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever
wants to save his life will lose it, but
whoever loses his life for me will find it.
(Matthew 16 NIV)
Our first lesson is from the prophet
Jeremiah. Like all the faithful prophets, he
was misunderstood and abused as he stood
faithful amid an unfaithful generation. He
cries in frustration to God because of the
pain. He suffers for bringing God’s word to
the people and he becomes angry with God for
this. Why doesn’t God protect Him?! Why
should the messenger suffer on account of the
It isn’t fair! The cross of our Lord Jesus
Christ wasn’t fair! It was completely
unfair! It was an innocent man suffering the
penalty for a planet of criminals!
As with the Lord, the best that our planet
has had to offer has been ridiculed and
harmed throughout history. Cain kills Abel!
Angels are endangered in Sodom. Joseph is
thrown into jail on false charges. Elijah
despairs so deeply over the unfaithfulness of
Israel that he wants to die.
Paul sums up the unfair lot of the faithful
very well when he was inspired to write in
37 They were stoned; they were sawed in two;
they were put to death by the sword. They
went about in sheepskins and goatskins,
destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- 38
the world was not worthy of them. They
wandered in deserts and mountains, and in
caves and holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11
No--life isn’t fair toward the godly, and yet
it is through the godly, as they carried
their crosses, that the world has been
changed for the better.
There’s something gripping about that person
who stands in the tempest of worldly ways and
will not let go of God’s truth! There is a
winning power in that individual who shows
godly, sacrificial love in a world where most
people are only looking out for #1!
At this point (I want to warn you in
advance), the message is going to sound a bit
hard... a bit tough on Christians living in
America today. Yet my friends, a true word,
though bitter, is better than all the sweet
falsities of human history!
The truth is that many Christians today are
not committed to Jesus Christ. They place
everything before the worship and service of
God. They are like the "rice Christians" in
China before the communists took over.
The "rice Christians" were converts to
missionary work who became Christians not for
spiritual reasons, but because of the
material benefits that came their way.
One million protestant conversions had taken
place before the communist take over in
China, but these were mostly "rise
Christians" --Christians for personal gain.
In America today (if we simply look at the
ratios of those who claim to be Christian
over against those who are active within a
church body) we will conclude that most
American Christians are "rice Christians"
They seldom worship... they will not
sacrifice personal wants to give
substantively to the financial needs of the
church... and these "rice Christians" avoid
serving in the church.
They want the business connections... they
want a place for family baptisms, marriages
and burials... but the bottom line is that
they want to be served, and not to serve...
They want the sacrifices... but not to
sacrifice. And we see this within our own
After the Communist take over in China great
persecution came upon the church. During
what the communists called the "Great Leap
Forward," regular church services were
outlawed. Informal, secret cottage meetings
become the norm, and pastors and Christian
leaders were beaten, killed, and imprisoned.
Yet during the persecution, as genuine
Christians in China carried great crosses,
the genuineness of their faith and love
became infectious and the church of dedicated
saints began to grow.
Christians visited those who had lost loved
ones, prayed for the sick, and even sought
God for miraculous healings. In one case, a
small Christian group cared for a communist
teacher who had become sick. So genuine was
their compassion that by the power of the
Holy Spirit the teacher became a Christian.
The teacher returned to school and was
ridiculed. She was required to go before a
public meeting. Here she protested their
hostility. "When I was ill," she pointed
out, "you did nothing to help me. It was the
Christians who did everything!"
The fact of Christians active in sacrifice
and service shamed the teacher’s critics into
silence. In this way, under the shadow of