March 26th 2013
“Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Matthew 14:27
A mentor of mine used to pray, “Lord, help me to take the way of the cross in all that I do today.” It’s an interesting line, one I’ve never forgotten. My friend was trying to say that he wanted God’s help to subvert his own ego needs, responding to difficult relational situations with humility and forgoing the need to win, gloat, or belittle another human being. Jesus reminds his followers that they must “carry the cross” to truly follow him. I don’t believe Jesus was talking about a physical cross. It was certainly an instrument of physical death, but I think he was talking about something beyond that, something far deeper. “
Carrying the cross” is an invitation to live differently. It’s a willingness to submit one’s whole self to a new lifestyle. It means allowing ourselves to voluntarily suffer, turn the other cheek, pray for our enemies, forgive, and surrender our need to get the last lick in an argument. It is a radical challenge Jesus issues. How hard it is to voluntarily appear weaker, submissive, and non-combative! But there is freedom in this lifestyle. “Dying daily” brings life. Instead of getting swept into whirlpools of tit-for-tat violence, cesspools of bitterness, and quagmires of grudges, reach out for the life that is truly life. Let go of your compulsion to get even, and find your new identity in the way of Christ.
Lord, relationships are complex. Life is messy. We all need your help to “take the way of the cross” in all we do. Give us the insight to discover what this means and the courage to do it. (The Promise Effect p. 184, 185)