While out on my prayer walk this morning, I was pondering how to live, how to face the day with courage, determination, love, and self discipline. How could I face the challenges, the many tough problems before me this day?
Suddenly, Christ’s call to take up our cross daily and follow him came to mind. As I walked, it occurred to me this call from Jesus is not a call to go around thinking, looking and acting like a saintly martyr. To the contrary, it is a call to victory, to joy, to peace.
The issue is not just taking up the cross. Many focus on that. They think of the unbearable spouse or the impossible brat or the mother-in-law or the boss from hell or the illness or whatever as their personal sacrifice in life, just a “cross I have to bear.” Have you ever heard or maybe said that before? Ashamed to say, I have. Isn’t this fatalism?
Fatalism is a prescription for defeat, for failure, for stagnation. Dump the martyr complex! Dump the fatalism! Get moving! That’s the big issue. But to where? In what direction? And an even bigger issue with whom will you be travelling?
Jesus said to follow him, not sit around and bemoan our suffering and problems. So we have a pretty good travelling companion. But where are we supposed to follow? The destination is Crucifixion. Crucifixion is where we choose to die to our old selves and live to eternity.
Lot’s of folks, Christian and otherwise, recognize the importance of surmounting the ego if we are to live successful and happy lives. The ego as it turns out can be our worst enemy. To Crucify the ego is to live to one’s full possibilities. What irony! If I focus on me and what I want and need, I end up cutting myself off from what I need and want. If I focus on the people around me, on my community, my country, my world only then can I become all that I was meant to be. Only in serving, can I know peace.
Here is the passage where Jesus talks about picking up our cross and following him. Does it jibe with what came to me this morning?
23 And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]. 24 For whoever would preserve his life and save it will lose and destroy it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he will preserve and save it [from the penalty of eternal death]. 25 For what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and ruins or forfeits (loses) himself? (Luke 9, Amplified Bible)
Please comment if you have some insights to share.