TAKE UP YOUR CROSS
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. (Mk. 8:34 ESV). The cross is the furnaces of if Auschwitz, the killing fields of Pol Pot, the fires and beheadings of the middle east, government betrayals of every kind. It is the death that lies thick in the inner cities, the political machines that run over us with the words, “we only what to help you.” It is the big corporation that tries to manipulate us and the greed of small business. It is the Marxist who snares souls like the angel of death and the Capitalist who has no mercy on the poor. It is every murder, every act of adultery, ever rape, every child abused and exploited. It is every trust broken, every love lost, every soul broken by the indifference of the righteous, every thought or act of hate. It is every dark heart that thinks only evil. It is the good guy who smiles and loves but inwardly is full of death and corruption. It is every possible iteration of sin and idiolatry. It is literally the gaping mouth of the pit of hell. This horror is in our collective history and in our DNA. We are collectively guilty and personally sinful before God.
The cross we take up is the cross of Jesus. His cross atoned for the sins of humanity. We do not make atonement for sin, but we are with him in all the unholy ugliness of the One who knew no sin became sin on our behalf. We are there while he makes Atonement. We are with him while he is our sacrifice, our substitute. We are there while he pays the penalty of our sin and death. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Rom. 6:8 ESV) “We were crucified with him, in order that we might live with him.”
We should now be known by the scars of Christ in our soul. We have died with him. We are dead to the world and the gods of this world. We should be consumed with living according to the One who now lives in us for we are now in Christ and Christ is in us. Nothing less can be called Christian living. Christ is not concerned about your happiness or your pleasure. His care is that you walk with him. He cares that you are transformed into the very image of Christ himself.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 6:1-11 ESV)