Genesis 17; Matthew 16; Nehemiah 6; Acts 16
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Just how does a middle class suburban Christian take up the cross and follow Jesus?
The disciples must have been mortified to hear these words of Jesus. The cross was not the gold symbol worn around the neck to remind them of who their master was. It was a heavy, rough and splintering instrument of death, torture, shame and suffering. My response to Jesus’ prediction of persecution, crucifixion, death and resurrection is similar to that of Peter’s. I tell Jesus, “No, not that. That is not the way to accomplish OUR purpose.”
Yet Jesus persists. I name those things I seek to hold onto so tightly: complacency, the illusion of control, comfort and security. These are my enemies. My Iraqi and Iranian Christian brethren suffer horrifically at the hands of their physical enemies. The suburban enemies and idols I comfortably face are subtle but their goal is the same: to silence the truth of Jesus living within us.
Lord I pray that you do not let me push this battle aside and pretend that it does not exist. Help me to pick up my cross and fix my eyes on you, the author and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:3). May I follow you wherever you lead. Amen