You know the old political slogan — “it’s the economy, stupid,” a slogan actually not meant for public consumption, rather it was a reminder for political activists to stay on target — the economy.
Christians need a similar reminder to stay on target — it’s the cross, and nothing else.
Confusion exists over the cross. And no wonder, Peter reminded us Jesus (and by extension, the cross) would be a stumbling block.
Crazy ideas surround it. I’ve seen it compared to various heretical ideas of social justice, for example. For some reason, people tend to see what they want; confirmation bias, a problem appearing in many areas.
What should we do? What is the authority? For Christians (and really everyone else, even if they don’t know it), that authority remains the Bible.
If someone comes up with a kooky idea contradicting the Bible (like social justice), it’s mans’ error, not the Bible.
I won’t list some of the crazy ideas I’ve come across. They’re so bizarre they’re not worth repeating.
Once radical and heretical ideas are tossed aside, one common problem remains — one you’ve probably heard many times before.
I’ve got cancer, I guess that’s just the cross I’ve got to bear.
Is that true? It turns out no.
We need a review from the booth; recall events in the garden that night. They came to arrest Jesus, and Peter being Peter acted brashly. Jesus rebuked him, saying:
Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26)
Wait a minute. Jesus says at any time He could ask the Father and receive anything He wanted — including avoiding the cross entirely.
When someone has sickness or other trials, those circumstances may certainly be bad, but they’re not the cross.
The cross is a choice.
It’s a deliberate decision to put aside what I want, and follow what the Father wants.
No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. (John 10:18)
Contrary to what you might have heard — where Jesus didn’t claim to be God, He was only caught up in something He didn’t understand — Jesus was in charge the entire time. He choose and orchestrated the events of Easter week.
When faced with a choice, what’s easy isn’t always right, and what’s right isn’t always easy.
I recall an old story about a person who believed his trials were more than he could bear. Complaining to the Lord, he received his wish.
The Lord stands him before two doors, and says he can take his cross into the room on the left, and leave it there. Then he can come back out, go into the room on the right, and choose a new cross.
He does so, straggling into the first room to unload his burden.
Coming back out much lighter and feeling better, he strolls light footed into the second room.
There, he becomes crestfallen, for he sees nothing but towering crosses, until he finally sees a small one in the corner.
Picking it up, he says Lord, I’ll take this one, and the Lord replies, “that’s the one you brought in.”
You see, even if you’re struggling through mighty problems like Job, someone always exists who has it tougher.
Even the struggles of Job are not the cross. It wasn’t Job’s choice, rather he become entwined in a debate between God and Satan.
Easter remains a time for people to get new clothes, wear funny hats, and generally feel good about the empty tomb.
Nothing wrong with that (so much). However, just once, perhaps you should back up a few days, and instead of focusing on Sunday and how that provides your path to salvation, focus on Friday, and what it means to choose your cross.
After all, you can’t be His disciple without it.
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:38)
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27)
No doubt exists you will have problems. Life is hard, and maybe someone backed into your Lexus, your ice cream melted, and your pony died.
All bad things to be sure, but none of them are the cross … at least the way Jesus speaks of it.
I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.