About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Cross Carrying Community
Luke 9:23 gets little
press in our western, self-seeking, Christian culture.
We don't like being told to deny self.
Our consumer driven society endlessly entices us to grab anything
and everything this world has to offer.
We then rent storage units to house all of our excess stuff.
This self-gratifying infectious disease is sucking the life of the
Holy Spirit out of the Body of Christ.
In addition to denying
self a disciple of Jesus must carry his cross every day and follow Jesus.
As 21st century believers, I doubt if we grasp the impact
these words had on Jesus' disciples. Imagine
what Peter thought? He knew
that Roman crosses were erected to crucify people.
The idea of carrying his cross must have been perplexing, if not
confusing, disturbing, and unsettling.
"deny" and "take up" in Luke 9:23 are aorist verbs in
the Greek text. This means
that denying self and taking up your cross is a one time completed action,
but, since these verbs are linked to the word "daily" disciples
of Jesus must rise every morning, choose to deny self, and carry their
crosses throughout the day. It's
a once every day determined decision.
Denying self and carrying
one's cross is more than a literary metaphor to make a point.
For Jesus, it meant a literal physical death.
Although Peter didn't know it at the time, his cross would lead him
to a literal death as well. Don't
get me wrong. Jesus and Peter
weren't masochists; first century versions of today's suicide bombers.
Denying themselves and carrying their crosses were acts of love
which made it possible for them to serve those whom God placed before
For us today, carrying
our crosses means crucifixion. Each morning we choose to crucify our
selfish nature that wakes within us all.
We deny self to serve those to whom Jesus places us alongside each
and every day. I cringe as I
type these words. They sound
so drastic, so culturally incorrect, but what can I say.
I don't pattern my life after cultural correctness.
What choice do I have if I want to be a disciple of Jesus?
There is another aspect
to carrying our crosses that Christians in the western world have
experienced little of. The
influence of Biblical thought in western society has saved us from the
persecution that Jesus and Peter faced.
This Biblical consensus is a forgotten memory of an ancient age.
Our culture has converted to a secular, even an anti-Christ,
consensus that demands we embrace its unbiblical doctrines and practices
or else pay the consequences, and there will be consequences.
Even today, here in Canada, I know of a brother in Christ who is losing a portion of his income
because he refuses to cave into cultural correctness.
As disciples of Jesus
living in an anti-Christ culture, persecution is rounding our corner and
will soon knock on our door. Deciding
to carry our crosses as a public demonstration of following Jesus will be
costly. We can either live in
relative comfort and safety by falling in line with the cultural correct
crowd or we can reap the consequences of carrying our crosses to follow
Consider the martyred
saints we see in the book of Revelation.
They refused to cave into cultural correctness.
"They loved not their lives in the face of death (Revelation
12:11 HCSB)." For them
carrying their crosses was not a literary metaphor.
It was literal death. We
may not be among these martyred saints, but that doesn't mean we will
escape any consequence for carrying our crosses.
Whatever price you and I are paying, or will pay, we will choose to
be a cross carrying community that stands strong in the face of the
cultural correct crowd.