Cross Carrying

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

The command of Jesus was for us to take up our cross and follow Him. While Holy Week was a given week on the calendar, the cross becomes central in our lives every day of every week of every year. We follow Him by carrying our cross.

I always carry a small cross in my pocket. There is nothing magical about it, but it does remind me several times a day when I reach into my pocket for change or for keys of who I am and whose I am. It is a gentle reminder to me to let the cross influence everything that I do and think. Carrying the cross in my pocket is no good unless it impacts the way I live. That is what it means to take up our cross and follow Jesus.

A lot of people wear crosses as jewelry, ornaments, etc. That can make a good witness. I wonder if most people who are wearing a cross really are doing it to make a witness and serve as a reminder of carrying the message of the cross, or just wearing it as decorative jewelry. Crosses are for carrying, not just wearing.

Some people have strange ideas about taking up the cross. Carl Behr lives in Pennsylvania and he really went to the extreme about the cross. He built a 24-foot illuminated cross and put it in his front yard. He refuses to take it down.

Obviously the cross violates local ordinances and is an irritant to his neighbors as the illuminated cross shines in their windows. Carl says it just demonstrates the depth of his religious conviction. He said, “I’m measuring my faith to the Lord. I don’t care what anyone else thinks.” I admire his boldness, but I don’t think his actions are consistent with what Jesus meant!

Paul teaches us that the cross is a stumbling block and foolishness for those who do not believe, but for us who believe it is the power and wisdom of God. (I Corinthians 1:23,24) It is not to be dealt with casually, but in sincere acceptance of the love God has shown to us in giving His Son to die on the cross.

The cross is the bridge between earth and heaven. The cross represents the extent of God’s love in coming to transform us. Carrying the cross can never be taken lightly or casually.

Easter faith expresses itself in following Jesus every day. We accept His challenge that “whoever desires to follow me, then take up your cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 8:23)

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