Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cross Engagement

As I was reading and asking God to allow me to see the scriptures in a new light I thought again about this idea of taking up your cross. A couple of blogs ago I wrote on this topic off an idea from Pastor Kevin, our Worship Arts Pastor.

Today I would like to share another slant on "taking up your cross." First if we look at the Greek word "take" it is: airo. This has multiple meanings. But what did Jesus mean in that century to His disciples? Did it mean to "bear" the cross of Jesus? Did it mean to "hang up" the cross that burdens you down so you can be free to follow Jesus?

One meaning of "take up" in the Greek dictionary is to "remove or take away." With that in mind, I'd like to throw this idea out there.

What if... as Jesus was talking when He said "take up your cross" that meant to engage your culture. Now stay with me. What if it doesn't exclusively mean to "bear the cross of Jesus" but to take away and nullify the cross the world tries to "hang us on." Let me explain.

The world is always trying to "crucify or hang" Christianity on a "cross of sorts." For example saying Christianity is: intolerant, homophobic, fundamental, closed minded, etc. Jesus followers are constantly hung on the cross of worldly labels, (and sometimes rightly so.)
You see it was a physical cross for Jesus, but He conquered His cross with love. He voided or nullified their intent of the cross with His love. For us it's not a physical cross but.... (you can fill in the blank.) Whether it's labels, accusations, persecution, mockery, whatever...the world always has a cross of their choosing to hang us on.

As Jesus "engaged" His world, so must we. Mark 8:34-35 "If any man would come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me." Jesus said you must take up "your cross." What if a part of what Jesus is saying is that, whatever cross you hear people hanging Jesus followers on, or you personally, you must take that up! You must be willing to engage it! You must take it up and remove it, nullify it by showing love.

Could this verse be meaning this: "If any man would come after Me, he must deny himself, engage the world, nullify the cross and follow Me."

  • So often we don't conquer our crosses with love! For example: when confronted that Christians are self-righteous or uncaring we argue. We say "no, we give, we serve" and argue we're not self-righteous.
  • When confronted with the argument that we are homophobic, we argue "NO, we like God hate the sin and love the sinner." When in reality our lives and the "sinner's life" never cross paths (and most of the time we make sure we don't.)
  • When confronted with the cross of being called "intolerant" or "judgmental" we get mad and begin to argue doctrine because "we know we're right." LISTEN: we will die on what we KNOW to be true, but we hardly ever die DOING what we know to be true, like Mother Teresa.
As Jesus conquered His cross with love, we must conquer the crosses the world tries to put us on with love as well. If it's the label of self-righteousness we conquer that by giving, feeding and doing. If it's the label of homophobe we conquer that by helping, showing grace and love to all people and not excluding any group. If it's being called intolerant then we listen, help and love without being judgmental.

After all, Jesus did say you will know My followers by their "love"...He didn't say by their doctrine. It's much easier to live in a "safe religion" than to engage the world's crosses. This truly takes a denial of self to be involved in the "cross engagement". But the Perisos King (Jesus) says if you want to truly follow Me, if you want to experience true life, Kingdom life then that's found in: taking up your cross and engaging the world with love. I call that "cross engagement."

Just A Thot,
Pastor Dan