Taken from Luke 9:22-25:
Jesus said to his disciples:
"The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised."
Then he said to all,
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?"
Wow. Who can do that? I know that I have tried, but have fallen far short of where I wish I could be. There are so many things calling upon me daily that I find it virtually impossible to follow through. Even today, I find that my schedule from work and the kids racing around to different events and their commitments, pull me further away from GOD and ultimately, my salvation.
I could sit here and blame my life or my circumstances, but the fact remains that I created the circumstances in my life that lead me away from GOD. It is I who willingly walk parallel to my GOD and not in step with his eternal plan.
The scripture above is truly a prophetic statement by Jesus: I will suffer, die and will rise again. I think I have heard that somewhere - it is what the Catholics call, the Nicene Creed:
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died,and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
What a beautiful statement - Most people ramble past it in church - but those two lines sum up the beauty of our religion in a nutshell - Christ Died, Christ Rose Again - all those who follow him and his teachings shall have the opportunity and promise of everlasting life in his kingdom.
The second part of the Gospel teaches us that we only have to give up what has shaped us to the present day and take up the cross of stewardship... better yet, the cross of discipleship and follow Jesus. It is not an easy task. I have carry with me a lot of baggage and items that I have acquired mentally, physically and emotionally over the past 37 years. Maybe what I need to give up is not something physical - but mental.
Give up my pre-conceived notions of humanity. Give up my prejudices that cloud my ability to follow Jesus properly. Leave the trappings of learned habits and behavior and take up the cross presented to me. Easier said than done, right?
This isn't a WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? statement - "What Would Jesus Do" started out to be a good idea, but ultimately becomes a corrupt notion of goodness. We are projecting ourselves as Jesus on a situation to see what he would do, but when you start with a cracked/flawed diamond (us), it is still cracked and flawed. Jesus, for all purposes, was flawless and without cracks. How can we project his behavior upon any given situation and come out with the right answer?
The answer for me, is to release my pre-conceived notions and trappings of people, societies and histories and work within the framework of GOD and the teachings of the bible, mainly the New Testament. I am not a Judge or Jury and it is not my place to condemn nor ridicule. It is simply my place to LOVE and to share the message of LOVE for one another.
In the end, if we do not give up ourselves and take up the cross, we will be no better than the chief priests, ridiculing and prosecuting our Christ and condemning ourselves to an eternal death...