Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Cross

I wonder how many of us understand the cross. I'm not claiming perfect knowledge of the cross, merely my perspective based on prayer and study of the Bible. It seems to me that nowadays people cheapen the cross. We put it on shirts, bumper stickers, tattoos, and wear it as a pendant on a necklace. We make it a status symbol. We wear it "proudly" only to disgrace it by our speech or actions.

Matt. 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23 all state that we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. This verse does not tell us to wear or display the cross as an adorning ornament, especially if our lives do not reflect Jesus'. It also doesn't tell us that the cross is something to be taken flippantly.

As a Christian, our cross is meant as death to self, just as it meant death to our Savior. His death is not to be taken lightly and that is just what not understanding the significance of the cross does. Jesus suffered and died on a cross. We are going to suffer and some Christians do die for their following of Christ. Nowhere in the Bible does it even hint that taking up one's cross and following Jesus will be fun and games and not require denial of certain pleasures in order to obey God. So Jesus says that to follow him means walking in the path of the cross. Whether that path involves "taking up the cross," or "losing one's life" we as Christians need to understand that life in the world will not involve an easy, stress-less trip into Heaven. Bearing the cross and following Jesus is what we are called to do as disciples of Christ.

Reflect on what the cross means to you and how you display your cross. Is it an ornament or something you wear for show? Or is it something you bear daily and die to yourself so that you may follow Him obediently?

I will leave you an old hymn that quite adequately reminds us of the meaning of the cross:

"Take up thy cross and follow Me"
I heard my Master say
"I gave My life to ransom thee
surrender your all today"

Wherever He leads I'll go
Wherever He leads I'll go
I'll follow my Christ who loves me so
Wherever He leads I'll go

He drew me closer to His side
I sought His will to know
And in that will I now abide
Wherever He leads I'll go

It may be through the shadows dim
Or o'er the stormy sea
I take my cross and follow Him
Wherever He leadeth me

My heart my life my all I bring
To Christ who loves me so
He is my Master Lord and King
Wherever He leads I'll go

written by B.B. McKinney in 1936