Friday, March 21, 2008

Taking up the Cross


Today many Christians commemorate the death of Jesus Christ on the cross as he gave his life to redeem a sinful world. The cross has become a very common image recognized by almost everyone. People wear crosses, build crosses, and make the sign of the cross. The Pascal loaf pictured above and symbolic hot cross buns will be eaten during this season.

I personally doubt that Jesus died on a Friday and know the changing dates of Easter seldom coincide with the Jewish Passover that Jesus and his disciples celebrated on the eve of his crucifixion. But dates and special observances should not be the focus of argument because the cross is something that Christians must contemplate daily.

The gospels give an account of Jesus' teaching where he foretold the death he would suffer. Those who heard him speak would not understand the full significance of his words until later.

Then He (Jesus) said to them all,
"If anyone desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world,
and is himself destroyed or lost?"

Luke 9:23-25


Christians are called to a life of service, self-sacrifice and obedience to the will of God. Human nature rebels at the difficult words of Jesus and we are driven to seek our own comfort and pleasure. We are called to a daily cross bearing, not a token yearly observance of a death that happened two thousand years ago. Churches can become sanctuaries of human ambition and pride and the hypocrisy does not go unnoticed by outside observers. Jesus does not call us to extreme self denial and asceticism but to a life of love for God and mankind, compassion and service, and human suffering at times. The paradox is that this reordered life produces joy, peace, contentment and eternal reward.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.… The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love…is Hell.

C.S. Lewis
The Four Loves

7 comments:

  1. Ruth,
    Thanks for this reminder. I really like the C.S. Lewis quote. May we be willing to have our hearts broken for the sake of love!
    Laurie

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  2. Thanks Laurie. It is easier to write this than it is to live it.

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  3. Wow. Ruth, that C. S. Lewis quote. Wow.

    Thank you for that. I'd never read it.

    Happy Easter!

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  4. Thanks for the reminder.-Powerful words.
    Happy Easter to you and your family Ruth!

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  5. Ruth, your post here was certainly an attention getter. And the words of C.S. Lewis were so beautiful. The greatest love of all is God's love; and what a sacrifice He made by giving His only begotten Son to die for us. And Christ's love - He was willing to die for each of us. And for us to know the love of each other (and our pets) and to experience the heartbreak when we lose a loved one, we can only imagine how God's love is even greater.

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  6. I really appreciate what you wrote here.

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  7. Thanks everyone for your thoughtful comments.

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