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Saturday, 15 March 2014

Bearing your cross!

Many folk, even in our increasingly post-Christian, Western, culture speak of the cross that they have to bear.  This usually refers to some kind of unpleasant set of circumstances over which they have no control.  They will say, in connection with their particular trial: "Well, it's my cross, and I'll just have to bear it!"

In fact, this is an inaccurate statement!  Such unpleasant circumstances and experiences may be thorns, or afflictions.  However, at least in the Biblical sense, they are not crosses.  Our cross is something that we assume voluntarily!  Jesus said, ""If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." (Matt 16:24).  The cross stands for death to self.  It entails suffering for the sake of Christ and His witness.  It is borne by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in some fifty countries around the world today, where to own the Name of the Saviour is to leave oneself open to persecution at a level that is beyond the comprehension of those of us who live in the relative safety of the 'West'.  Bearing, or taking up, our cross means ennduring privation for Him in one way or another.

Our service, then, is regulated not by a grudging sense of duty, but by our dedication to the One Who bore a literal cross on His way to Calvary.  We no longer live for the applause of men, but for the glory of God.  This, I suspect, is why those in the persecuted church consistently ask the rest of us to pray - not for an end to their persecution, but for the grace and the strength to endure it!

If you profess to be a disciple of Jesus, are you willing to take up your cross for Him?  Remember, a dragged cross is always heavy; but those carried joyously will be amazingly 'light' (see Matt.11:30).

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