Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Morning Musings ...

It has been a while since I got this done on a Monday morning. Yesterday was of special note because it marked our 6th year anniversary in this church, so we have begun our 7th year. It was a good day.

The message was #5 in the series "Not A Fan". The focus was on Christ's call, in Luke 9:23-24, to "take up his cross daily". If this were a marketing strategy it would not be a very good one. Most marketing strategies focus more on comfort, this call is for anything but comfort. Those who heard Jesus make this call had a much different understanding of the cross than we do today. They knew it as a Roman method of execution that was despised. They understood that the cross represented humiliation. For us we need to be reminded that we are called to humbly follow Christ, making nothing of ourselves. They understood the cross represented suffering. There is no comfortable way to carry a cross. Vance Havner said, "We need men of the cross, with the message of the cross, bearing the marks of the cross." They understood that the cross represented death. Death of ourselves, the end of us and the beginning of Christ living in you.

Jesus' slogan could be come and die. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard." Being call to carry the cross is not a feel good image. We have dressed up the cross, we have made it stylish in jewelry and stained glass, but the cross of Christ is not stylish. George MacLeod said, "Jesus was crucified, not in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves." We are by nature comfort seekers. This is the opposite of a cross bearer. Kyle Idleman says we have developed a "Snuggie Theology". This is a comfort seeking, it must feel good if it is God's will type of theology. This is opposite of Christ's call and example.

Through my 28+ years of ministry I have done many funerals, I have been by bedsides as some have taken their last breath and this has given me a unique understanding of death and it's impact. This sounds odd, but I have noticed that the dead don't seem concerned with style, or status or what others think. When you lose your life your priorities certainly change. Christ has called us to give our life for him, in surrender and sacrifice. So we should live without the concerns that seem to weigh down so many people in our society.

Dying to self and surrendering your life to Christ leads to discovering true life. It seems to be backwards but it is true. We are all carrying something. For some you are already answering Christ's call and carrying the cross as you follow him. Some are carrying hurts, some are carrying fears, some are carrying your own sins, some are carrying your stuff and dreams. To be able to carry the cross you must lay down the other stuff. You cannot carry all of your stuff and the cross. To carry the cross you must let go of all the other stuff. What are you carrying? Are you willing to pick up the cross? Will you let go of all your stuff?

Are you a fan, or a follower?


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