Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
If American Christians had to live in North Korea, Syria or Iraq, we'd learn the tortuous definitions of what it means to carry our crosses.* Our faith would be tested, braced and proven by persecution in hostile cultures.
As it stands, our crosses are jewelry: tiny tokens of our mute commitment. I, too, have worn fashionable crosses. But do such relics cheapen His passion? Because His Cross wasn't pretty or light. He didn't wear It. In truth, It wore Him.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: I consider taking up the cross to denote our duty unto death. If so, then we must listen closely to the still, small Voice of our Leader, so His Orders will be clear to us. We must marry His Word, 'unto death.'
For sure, we're called to deny ourselves: to deny our selfish interests, to deny our fondest temptations, to deny we own the Lord's talents, to deny we deserve their glory and to deny a play-it-safe life.
We also must carry our crosses. If the Cross is a message of Christ, if the Cross is designed to be seen, if the Cross exposes our weakness, if the Cross endures indignity, if the Cross stands through persecution, if the Cross sets us up to be pierced, if the Cross rises out of the earth, if the Cross reaches around the world, if the Cross points us straight up to God, then we do well to embrace the Cross.
In so doing, we follow Jesus. Death cannot part this matchless union. It simply opens a lovely door to paradise beyond description, where crosses become crowns of triumph.
To Be Continued...
* Short, excellent article: What did Jesus mean when He said, 'Take up your cross and follow Me?' https://www.gotquestions.org/take-up-your-cross.html
* Additional short article, 3 Ways to Take Up Your Cross: http://www.christianpost.com/news/3-ways-to-take-up-your-cross-50639/
* Open Doors World Watch List: https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Do-Gooders series.