Going Crossless

We are a bucket full of nails,

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Matt. 10:38

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Matt. 16:24

We can so easily process our faith to something respectable and somewhat pleasant.  This is a natural tendency. But the cross has a stigma, we might think we can easily defuse it, rendering it as harmless.  Acceptability is a wonderful thing to the modern day believer.  It is easy to turn from all that would make us different, and grasp a crossless faith. It does seem we conform rather than transform.

Effort is being made right now to twist and nullify your belief in Jesus.  It is a force that works on us, relentlessly.  Satan intends to destroy you. He is frightened by the power of the cross, and the spiritual truth it contains. The cross (and resurrection) destroyed the devil’s kingdom of twisted darkness. He will never recover.

Just as Jesus carried the cross He was to die on, you and I are to follow His example.  Jesus had to go to this place of death, and so are we.  My cross is not purely emblematic or abstract symbolism.  It entails a real death.  I pick it up and go to die.  Crucifixion is the end of me, it all comes down to this final point of termination.

Jesus escorts us to the point of death.  This is to become the framework for a sincere discipleship.  The cross, our cross, brings us to an end.  To be worthy of Jesus is to bear it boldly.  The cross develops into our thinking, and its dynamic pounds us into a spiritual reality.  Jesus intensifies the cross, making it the mark of authenticity of a disciple.

We have no options, if we follow it must be with a cross.  There is absolutely no room for us if we approach Him without it.  The cross transmutes our lives, and transmits a signal that we have complied with Jesus’ wishes.  If we advance at all, it will be through the cross only.

We must deny ourselves.  That denial is an intense working. “I do not know the man” was Peter’s statement against Jesus.  If we deny ourselves, we will take a stand against our own selves, turning against ourselves.  We will be pinned to the mat.

Our focus should be on the cross.  We must infuse it into our lives.  A tea bag will flavor an entire cup.  It turns a cup of boiling water into a wonderful beverage.  The cross that belongs to us will have the same effect.  It will make something where there was nothing.

“All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning.” 

 Oswald Chambers

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Falling, and Dying?

“I tell you the truth, a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die to make many seeds. But if it never dies, it remains only a single seed.25 Those who love their lives will lose them, but those who hate their lives in this world will keep true life forever.”

John 12:24-25, NCV

 

Often believers are attempting to ‘hear God’ only to bolster their position, reputation, ‘connections’ and prestige.  There’s no talk about falling down and dying as Jesus revealed in John 12.  If I’m extremely occupied with knowing God’s will it will maneuver me into a completely wrong position.  Discipleship was never meant to be a celestial self-improvement plan.

When I get over-concerned about ‘my’ discipleship, acquiring the praise of men and achieving a modicum of honor, I end up ‘missing the boat’.  Life was not meant to profit from, but ‘to fall and die.’  There is a deadly danger of becoming self-aware and self-absorbed.  And this is ‘the spirit of the age’.

Nothing will ever go right if we try to hear the Lord while we avoid falling and dying.  To put it another way.  There can be no resurrection without a crucifixion first.  We must die if we are going to live.  We must become weak before we can understand power.

Will you realign your life to include ‘falling, and dying?’ 

Do you really want to hear Him?  Will you realign your life to include ‘falling, and dying?’  Will you begin to readjust the way you approach yourself and others?Modern popular versions of our faith will almost always lack this ‘death-life’ component.  These versions are often designed to reflect our society.  And we are terribly self-centered.  We will not ever grow and mature unless we consent to ‘falling and dying’.

Beware of the church whose leaders do not ‘limp.’

Beware of the church whose leaders do not ‘limp.’ Dying to self is a challenging and vital component to our faith that will bring us into an astonishing fruitfulness.  That is what happens to those who die–they bring life to others.

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A More Comfortable Discipleship

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” 

Matt. 16:24, NLT

This is a head scratcher. The issue for me is that it is the disciples who are being addressed.  Jesus has words with them.  And what He shares is intense and demanding.  He invalidates any discipleship that doesn’t say “No!” to oneself. This what is meant by self denial.

The desire to follow must be present, a true longing to walk with Jesus.  We must be willing, but this is only the starting point.  This would-be-follower is to go a step further.  He must put to death his attitudes, actions, wants and wishes.  This disciple is to turn her back on the very things she has grown and cultivated all these years as important and worthwhile.  These things are self centered and will only nullify a disciple’s walk..

There must be a major upheaval of things.  An excavation of your goals and reasons.  It all must be torn down and hauled away.  We are only following mentally, or emotionally if we will not make an end to this “natural” life.

Jesus talks about personalized crosses.  Each disciple has his own.  It is custom-made, with your monogram on it.  It is part of the discipleship attire, and many say it is out-of-style.  But each individual disciple must pick it up, settle it on his shoulder, and then step out into the crowded street.

Some say cross-carrying is a dubious and an eccentric take on Christian ethics.  Church is where we go to fulfill a religious duty we feel is necessary. Others, get a spiritual buzz from singing chorus’ or “Amazing Grace”.  But it is Christianity without a cross.

Pick it up.  Fit it on your shoulder, and focus on Jesus.  Set your gaze on Him and step into the crowd.  You are a disciple and a witness to the world and the world-system.  You who are denying self now, become real to the will of God.

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