Good Friday and Easter Sunday are extremely important days in the Christian calendar. All around the globe believers will be taking this time to focus on the sacrifice that Jesus made through his death on the cross as well as the hope and assurance we receive through His resurrection.
Typically this time is seen as our time to be grateful for Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, for the fact that we have our sins forgiven, and because we are justified before God. While I agree and affirm all these things, I do wonder if gratitude meets God’s desires from us as a response, or if He expects more. Should the cross be something to merely be thankful for, or should this time of reflection also include our personal reflection challenging ourselves on how our lives can be shaped by the cross as well?
If our response to the cross is limited to (or mostly focused on) gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice, could it tend to promote a Christianity without cost? We all must ask ourselves whether the cross is something merely done for us, or is it something that we are also called to? If it is just done for us then we can be thankful, and as well be comfortable because we are good to go… however if we are called to share Jesus’ death and resurrection then there is a cost assumed as well. What is this cost? What would a life modeling and imitating the cross of Jesus look like in the 21st Century?
In America, we are known for being a bit petty… we have the habit of associating anything that does not go the way we want or anytime we are not completely comfortable, with the term suffering. Our heater breaks for a day in our house and we call it suffering, we wear a Christian T-Shirt and get funny look and we call it suffering, we don’t get a good parking space on Sunday morning close to the church and we call it suffering. Someone has the sniffles when they wake up and they are suffering. I do not want to trivialize many of our daily struggles, however I think our excessive comforts in America make it hard for us to envision living a life of the cross biblically in our context. And while I do think we can suffer as Christians in America, I am not quite sure taking prayer out of schools, or removing the 10 commandments from the courthouse can adequately be termed suffering when we remember Jesus’ death, the first 300 years in which the church was persecuted, or the global persecution that Christians face all around the world currently.
Freestyle with me on this, what does it mean to take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Jesus in our time and context?