Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How heavy is your cross?

My other blog used to be for book reviews and for regular blogging also, until I made two separate blogs, one for books and one for non-book blogging. I am going to slowly start moving some of the older posts I like from that blog to here, and deleting ones I don't like as much. This is one of the first of those"

" I think so many of our culture's problems boil down to our trying to escape what is hard. We were never given that option. Many things are hard. And as you mentioned, it's worth it to "do the right thing, come what may"."
This was a comment on a blog I was recently reading, and how true. No one does want to do anything hard or difficult anymore, but living the Christian life isn't supposed to be easy. Sometimes it can be so hard you feel like giving up, but giving up isn't an option.

Jesus said "take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow me". We like to edit that verse- Jesus said "Follow me". Who wants to talk about crosses, and denying oneself? Way back years ago, when I was a teenager, someone from my church did a lesson on crosses, and they included a small skit. I can't remember the whole thing, but the part I do remember, is a woman walked up and said she wanted to become a disciple of Jesus. The person in charge had a table with several crosses on it, and they picked one up and handed to the woman. Instead of walking away, she started examining the crosses, and picked another one that was smaller, and prettier. "What are you doing?"She was asked. Her reply, "I don't like the cross you gave me. It's ugly. I want this smaller, prettier one". She was told she couldn't pick her cross, but had to take the one that was given to her.

A man had a dream. He was walking on the beach.......oops, wrong dream! Seriously, he dreamed he was on his way to Heaven, lugging a big & heavy cross. Life got hard, the cross became too heavy to bear, and the devil suggested he cut a bit off the bottom - it would still be a cross, but easier to carry. The man did so, and sure enough, the cross was a little easier to carry. Then it became too heavy again. So again, he trimmed just a bit off of the bottom. And again, a little later.

Finally, he came to the end of his journey. Before him lay a large abyss that led to Hell. Beyond, was Heaven. As he approached, an angel from the other side told him to lay his cross down to bridge the abyss, but alas, it was too short. His cross had been fashioned just for him, and was made long enough to be the bridge to Heaven, but he wanted it to be lighter, and easier to carry, and in the end damned his own soul.

Sobering story, but it does have a good point. We don't want crosses or difficulties today. All too many people are going an easier way, one where they can act like the world, dress like the world, be loved by the world. They wear a pretty gold cross around their necks, hang crosses on the walls of their house, and are proud of the cross they bear. There is no scorn to bear, no difficulties related to their Christian walk. Their cross is small and pretty, and can be hidden from the world.

I could be off-base a bit, but I think bearing a cross can be more than just the scorn of the world, and/or relatives, though that is definitely a cross. A cross can be a physical issue. Like Joni Eareckson Tada. It can't be easy, being in a wheel chair, paralyzed. It can't be easy to trust and love God, knowing He could heal her, but hasn't. And yes, there are sinners in the same situation, but to have that problem, and serve and love God, is a cross.

There are young women - and young men, and not so young, who long for someone to love. A mate to go through life with. A family. Yet, they live their lives alone, and single. The devil tells them if they let down in this area or that, or gave up on this Jesus thing, they would surely find someone to love, if they weren't so rigid and had to do everything in the Bible. Surely God wouldn't mind......And so, they carry their cross.

The list could go on for infinity. The Jew or Muslim who converts to Christianity, then is banned from their family for turning their back on the religion they were raised on. The woman who has an unbelieving husband who fights her every inch of the way. Those are crosses. They are not easy to carry, and sometimes the bearer of the cross, just as Jesus did, may stumble and almost fall. Jesus did fall under the weight of His cross, and due to his physical condition, someone else had to carry it for him. We don't have that option. We can't sit the cross down and rest, or have someone else carry it for awhile. But often, we can have others help. To pray, offer encouraging words. If we do that for others, we are in a way, helping them to carry the cross. Sure, at the end of the day, they are still holding their cross, and we can go our way, to carry our own, but we do need each other, and we don't always know what cross the person across the church aisle may be carrying.

The term cross can be used too lightly. People remark that something is their cross to bear, when all too often, it is not a cross, but an inconvenience that they face. Their husband is always late for supper. Their kids won't clean their rooms unless their life is threatened. The neighbor parks where he blocks your driveway. And we sigh, and think this is our cross, we must bear it.

A true cross is often something we bear because we are a Christian. If we were not a Christian, it wouldn't even be an issue. Other crosses we bear, are something that would be different if we were not a Christian, but is something we would still deal with. Such as a physical issue that debilitates us. If we didn't serve Christ, we could be bitter about it. Give into whatever we are feeling. The Christian, however, must always trust God, be thankful, and believe that life is always worth living, even in their condition.

Even if we have no cross to carry such as some I have mentioned, every true Christian will carry some sort of cross. If no other, the one of scorn from the world and friends and relatives who think you are weird, or have gone too far. I occasionally read the magazine, Guideposts. It has some interesting stories in it, but one thing really bothers me. Everyone is a Christian in Guideposts. Jeff Gordan, racer. Diane Sawyer, TV news, Delilah, radio host. I have to wonder, if they are really Christians, where is their fruit? Where is their cross? Do the lives these celebrities live truly glorify Christ? Do they get any scorn for being a Christian, or is their Christianity so close to living like the world, their cross so small and pretty that they can wear it around their neck and hide it under their clothes - that the world just loves and claims them as one of their own?

Jesus said the world would hate us, not love us. And if we truly live like Jesus, live our lives by the Bible, the world isn't going to love us and think we are great. All too often, they will think we are weird, and just something to stop them from having their fun.

I am not making a blanket statement or judgement about celebrities, but so many mouth the words that they are a Christian, but star in movies where they us foul language, make disparaging comments about conservatives and Christians. Kirk Cameron stands out to me. He is hated by the media, liberals, and non-Christians, yet he makes and is in clean movies. Tim Tebow is mocked and hated by the same crowd..... if all celebrities who claimed to be Christian truly lived for Christ,  they would get the same treatment... and that is not to say those two men are perfect.

I have my crosses. Yep, I was "lucky" to get more than one! One I carry silently. Not many know. All too often, I have been tempted to give up, and decide it is ok to do what I have fought so hard against doing. Others have. The world cheers them on, while ridiculing and persecuting those who will not agree with them. Other crosses are more visible. The work issue, in my opinion, is a cross. I still only have part time work. I know if I would put aside what I believe, and work Sundays, I'd have a job. I actually had one lined up, I was getting the job, until that issue came up. It is tempting to give in, work Sundays. Others do, but those same others often have given up other Christian principles too. They look and act like the world, and there isn't much difference in how they live, and how the sinner down the street lives.

Jesus said this wouldn't be an easy way to go. It is narrow. He promised that it would be. It isn't popular. It isn't the way of Hollywood. There is no glitz and glamour in following Christ. And there is always a cross, and it isn't a pick and choose. We must live with the cross, or crosses, that has been given to us, trusting and serving God the whole time. That is what will get us to Heaven. And as the old hymn says.........

The cross that He gave may be heavy,
But it ne’er outweighs His grace;
The storm that I feared may surround me,
But it ne’er excludes His face.

The cross is not greater than His grace,

The storm cannot hide His bless├Ęd face;
I am satisfied to know
That with Jesus here below,
I can conquer every foe.

The thorns in my path are not sharper
Than composed His crown for me;
The cup that I drink not more bitter
Than He drank in Gethsemane.


The light of His love shineth brighter,
As it falls on paths of woe;
The toil of my work groweth lighter,
As I stoop to raise the low.


His will have I joy in fulfilling,
As I’m walking in His sight;
My all to the blood I am bringing,
It alone can keep me right.


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