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Questions from Lent: “Why do I need to take up my cross?

Our Scripture passage for this coming Sunday comes from the eighth chapter of Mark’s Gospel. In worship this week, we will hear Jesus’ familiar words:“ If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” We know that the cross is one of the most famous symbols of the Christian faith. This is interesting, since it is a reference to the manner in which Jesus Christ of Nazareth was tortured and killed. I don’t suspect many people would wear any other form of capital punishment as a charm on their necklace, bracelet, or earrings…but the cross is quite common in these cases.

We are in the season of Lent, and we have discussed that Lent is a solemn season of journey, self-denial, penitence, and self-reflection. Observing Lent challenges each of us to consider what we might do in order to create a hunger or longing inside of ourselves. The intention, then, is that we’d recognize ALL of our longings are satisfied in God alone.

Even in the midst of a season of self-denial, Jesus’ invitation to “take up your cross” seems a bit extreme. Jesus was to be executed on a cross. Does Jesus want me to be a martyr? I’m not sure I’m ready to die. Are you ready to die? Are you willing to die for your faith? Ready…and willing? Is it okay for me to answer, “Maybe?!?”

Jesus invites us to “take up our cross and follow.” What does that look like practically in your life? If you’re reading this article, then you haven’t been martyred. Does it mean something else? I think at the very least, taking up my cross involves a serious evaluation of my priorities. Do I do things, buy things, think things, and say things to benefit myself? Or, do I act for the benefit of the kingdom of God?

To suffer, sacrifice, submit to God’s will, and serve others are all examples of how faith can lead us and guide our lifestyle. I don’t write this article because I have the answers, but because I want to share the questions I’m wrestling with. What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comment below. I hope to hear from you.

Very truly,

Pastor Adam

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