Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pick Up Your Cross...

Mark 8:34-38 (ESV) And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. [35] For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. [36] For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? [37] For what can a man give in return for his life? [38] For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me….” There is a lot of material packed into this. On the surface it seems to clash with the saying of Jesus concerning his yoke being easy, and his burden light. Crosses are known not for being easy and light. There is, to use a Lutheran Cliché a paradox here. The yoke and burden of Christ is easy and light, like a feather really. Salvation requires nothing of us. It is done. But in believing in Christ and the salvation that Christ gives us with his own cross, inevitably comes with a cross, this is not something Christ gives us, so much as something the world gives us, just as it was the world and sin that gave Christ his cross. It is as Christ says, this world will give you tribulation, but take heart I have overcome the world. See, too often people consider the cross that Christ here speaks of to be something of their own choosing. They make the burden and yoke of Christ to be something harsh and heavy, of their own accord. Usually this comes about by making the kingdom of heaven to be something about eating and drinking, perhaps about speech habits, or tithing. Of course in doing this, they have a tendency, more often than not, to ignore the law as it is taught in scripture. See you have to do this to make the kingdom of God about eating and drinking, because not only does God’s law make perfect sense when considering that it is just spelling out what it means to love him and love your neighbor, but it also forbids the making of laws where he has made none. This means that you can in fact dance, or at least attempt to if you are white. The crosses we bear are not of our own choosing, and trying to choose one of our liking will not prevent us from being handed real crosses. These will be things like losing family because you refuse to forsake Christ. These will be things like doing what is right, even when it’s hard. In some cases, our crosses will not look all that different than the toils and tribulations that the rest of the world suffers to, we receive no temptation that is not common to man. But what will mark the tribulation as a cross rather than a mere tribulation will be the same thing that marks our works good, and that of an unbeliever as not good, and that thing is Christ in whom we believe, and have salvation. Just as our good works are only good because of him, so our tribulations are our crosses because of him.

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