Further Up, Further In Weblog

Chronicling the Journey of the Homeyers

Cross-Bearing September 4, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 3:09 pm

For the past week I have had one consistent thought attach itself to my thought processes.  It is more of a question than a thought.  I find it popping up as I prepared my sermon last week, as I ate at Chili’s on Thursday night, at the football game Friday, in Church Sunday morning, and at the beach yesterday.  The question, or thought, is this:  What does it really mean to pick up our cross and follow Jesus? 


People throw out that term quite casually in society today in reference to any degree of annoyance or burden present in one’s life.  Our annoying neighbor, our broken leg, our unsatisfying job, etc.  All are examples of things we casually refer to as our crosses that we are forced to bear in this life; but, are these really what Jesus was referring to? 


Did Jesus really mean that discipleship would simply cost us putting up with the trials in life that everyone faces?  As I have grappled with this thought and pursued it in meditation and reading and study I have come to the conclusion that myself and many of us who are following Christ have greatly misappropriated this phrase Jesus used as one condition of discipleship. 


The best definition I could find for what it really means to take up our cross is this:  Our cross is that which we do voluntarily as a consequence of our commitment to Jesus Christ.  Cross-bearing requires deliberate sacrifice and exposure to risk and ridicule in order to follow Jesus.


So taking up our cross means being about the work God has called us to and that we willingly respond to and accept, even, or especially when it requires sacrifice and leads to risk, ridicule, and other negative reactions. 


The trouble with the phrase, “taking up your cross” is that it fills me with the image of lugging this heavy, rough, overly-cumbersome burden that threatens overwhelm and exhaust me before I am able to truly follow Jesus very far.  Maybe the implications of this image is why Jesus says in Matthew 11:30 that we should rest in Him because His rest it easy and His yoke is light. 


Some of this stuff came out in my sermon yesterday and I felt like I hadn’t come to a definitive application point for my own thoughts on what it really meant to take up my cross and follow Jesus.  So of course my words during the sermon probably seemed muddled and confusing; and so, I thought I would blog some of my further thoughts this morning in hopes of possible clarification and probable confusion at the murky nature of this post. 


Final Thought:  I believe Jesus is pointing us to something much deeper and to sacrifices much greater than simply putting up with the trials of life, as hard as they maybe to put up with.  My fear is that we would fool ourselves into believing annoying neighbors and family members, health problems, and other trials of life are our crosses to bear and settle for this cheap imitation of discipleship and therefore miss out on the opportunity for true cross-bearing, and deep, intimate discipleship. 

So, where is the evidence in your life that you are taking up your cross and following Jesus?  Where are you willingly living out that which is a consequence of your commitment to Jesus Christ and that is requiring deliberate sacrifice?    



5 Responses to “Cross-Bearing”

  1. furtherupfurtherin Says:

    For further reading on the subject, feel free to peruse Luke 14:25-35. This was the text for my sermon yesterday and the impetus for these thoughts.

  2. Twin Says:

    I’ve never blogged before but I find your question quite interesting and a lot of food for thought.
    Maybe you might give examples of what you think “picking up our cross and following Him” might be??

  3. furtherupfurtherin Says:

    Anita (I think),
    Thanks for the comment. I hesitate to give concrete examples because I think in part if differs for each of us and I am still struggling with it. I can speak for my life: Following my call to pastor would be one way. I very easily could be doing something else with my life, maybe successfully, maybe not. But following God’s call to pastor and all the ministry that entails I think is taking up my cross. Kelley and I are praying about going on mission next summer instead of taking a vacation. We feel God’s leadership. An opportunity has presented itself, and I feel that to follow that would be us taking up our cross.

    But I think it can be beyond things like that, I.E. the way we spend our time and money. the quality of our relationships. the way we practice justice, mercy, reconciliation. It could be speaking hope into a life or extending grace.

    How do you see it in your life?

  4. A. Robbin Says:

    LOved the article, didn’t flow as well as usual though. But the topic was thought provoking…so are you considering cross-bearing more of a “privilege”? Sort of like when BEn needs taking care of one day, it will not be a burden really, but a privilege..maybe i need a better word…something that says the task will be something I will want to do even if it takes sacrifice? …RE: your mission trip. you know nephew, you must remember that you must always remember your own renewal time. Amy can’t really do Mission Friends now…am I denying a chance for the privilege of cross bearing by not taking that job? I am not being funny as in my personal email.
    Why is the idea couched in such negative language in the Bible “bear” the cross? Is this a mis tranlation maybe. what was original term or idea?

  5. furtherupfurtherin Says:

    There is no mistranslation. Here is the etymology of the word:
    basta,zw (bastazo)
    Meaning: to take up, carry
    Origin: of unc. or.
    Usage: bear(8), bearers(1), bearing(1), bore(1), borne(1), carried(2), carried away(2),carries(1), carry(2), carrying(2), endure(1), endured(1), pilfer(1), remove(1), supports(1), took up(1).

    Maybe “carrying” would be a better phrasing. It is used in the NRSV translation.

    I think the negative connotations are inevitable simply because no one ever heard of anyone literally carrying a cross unless they were on their way to be executed (unless you count the cooks around BU campus who carry a cross (most of the time with wheels attached) and yell at people to repent)

    I think the picture of our cross to bear being a priveleged sacrifice is a good one. It is anything we do which fulfills our calling. Many times our calling isn’t easy, nor is it what we would choose for ourselves or are necessarily good at. Therefore Mission Friends may very well be your cross to bear. But in saying that I am not refering to you having to put up with Joleen or with annoying children,I am referring to your opportunity for service and fulfilling a ministerial need.

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