Summary: Taking up our crosses means no less a sacrifice than it did for Jesus.
Advertisements often make all sorts of big offers, but we find out afterwards that there are hidden catches. These sorts of things are always hidden in the ’fine print.’
Companies that sell computer software do this a lot. When you buy computer software, you have to agree to all sorts of conditions before you are allowed to use it. For example, you can’t copy it, or sell it to anyone else. However, they put all of this stuff in a really hard to read way, so you just agree to it without reading it. This could be a bad mistake!
One computer programme I got once came in two different versions, the free one and one you have to pay for. When the computer asked me which one I wanted, it told me that if I chose to pay for the programme, the company would erect a giant statue on their front lawns in America! When I looked closely, however, there was some fine print. It read, ’Giant
Statue Offer not valid for anyone living on Planet Earth.’
We often talk about following Jesus, and the importance of discipleship. However, there is the matter of the fine print. Jesus didn’t hold back from telling us about it, but I wonder if we tend to ignore it – at our peril.
Take up your cross…
What does Jesus mean by Cross?
? What do we normally think of?
? We seem to have sanitised the Cross. They’re
usually symmetrical and tidy.
? They make great jewellery.
? They are often used as symbols of our religion,
or as good luck charms.
? Instrument of torture and execution.
? Guillotine – End of the Eighteenth Century in
? Gallows – Until the 1960s
? Gas Chamber – to Jews during WWII
? Electric Chair – Modern day America
? All of these things mean death.
? The symbol of Christianity is the thing which
brought death to its founder – unique!
? What sort of death?
? Physical death – Jesus’ way must be our way.
? ’Living Sacrifice’ – Romans 12:1
? We have been sacrificed. We are useless
for anything but the work of God.
Sacrifices in the Old Testament were to be completely consumed, or used for very specific roles in the religious activities. God normally allows us to live
– but not for ourselves.
? It means owning Christ (v. 38)
? Deny yourself – death to own wishes and desires
? In fact, this is the only way to ultimately
gain true joy and satisfaction
? Like the rest of the Gospel, this is a paradox.
? If you want to save your life, you must lose it.
? What good is treating yourself to all of earth’s pleasures, if you’re going to live in eternity without any joy or pleasure?
? He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. (Jim Elliott)
? We don’t deny ourselves very well in the West.
? Pain and suffering are seen as signs that we have failed in life.
Other cultures see pain and suffering as ways of achieving success.
? Churches advertise Christianity for what it can do for you, and how it can be better for our lives. Jesus, however, doesn’t tell people to come because it will make their lives more comfortable.
This is the fine print! If you want to be my follower, he says, don’t expect a life of happiness and freedom
from pain. No, he says, expect to die, and die painfully. (Mt 8:18-20)
? Winston Churchill had nothing to offer England but ’blood, sweat & tears.’
? Notice that we are told to take up our crosses.
? Taking it up is something we do, not something
that is done to us.
? I’ve heard people talk about various ailments
and problems they have as crosses.
? No, taking up our cross is something you must
choose to do. You must choose to make a sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom.
? Having cancer is not a cross. But if you
contracted cancer because of your work for the Kingdom, it might be part of it. If we are persecuted for our faith, that is part of the cross you are called to bear.
? Taking up our crosses is a choice we must make. If we sacrifice all for God’s sake, we have taken up our cross. On the other hand, if we don’t give to God what we have promised, then we are like
the songwriter who wrote, ’I want a cross with a
pillow and a hill with a view.’
*If anyone would come after me…*
? Notice that all these things are conditions.
? Cross bearing is not an option we can leave or