Saturday, March 3, 2018

Bishop’s Note: March 1, 2018 – “Take Up Your Cross And Follow Me.”

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)

What does that mean, to “take up your cross?” One common misconception places this in the area of the natural trials and tribulations of living in a fallen world. For example, people will say to someone with an illness or a disability, “Well, I guess that is your cross to bear.” However, I can tell you from first hand experience, that is not the case.  I have a bone disease called avascular osteonecrosis; it is somewhat like arthritis and has caused me to have my hips replaced… twice. I wish I didn’t have it – I certainly don’t’ want it.

Yet, while this is a trial that I have to live with, and it has made me a better minister, I did not choose to have this disease. Doctor’s are not 100% sure why I have it – generally you get it from either steroid use, trauma, or genetics. I don’t fit the first two categories, and I don’t think I fit the third category; but who knows. The point is, to be my “cross” I would have to intentionally choose to have it. 

Beyond that, to “take up your cross and follow Jesus” you need to choose it AND it needs to benefit another person and the Lord!

A better example of this would be Mother Teresa. In his book, The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne describes Mother Teresa Thus:
She was short, wrinkled, and precious, maybe even a little ornery, like a beautiful, wise old granny. But there is one thing I will never forget – her feet. Her feet were deformed. Each morning I would stare at them. I wondered if she had contracted leprosy. One day a Sister explained, “Her feet are deformed because we get just enough donated shoes for everyone, and Mother does not want anyone to get stuck with the worst pair, so she digs through and finds them. And years of doing that have deformed her feet.” Years of loving her neighbor as herself deformed her feet.

Mother Teresa had deformed feet because she chose loving the poor and suffering for them as her cross.

Closer to home, a few years back I witnessed my mom “take up her cross.” My grandmother was put on hospice care, and my mom quit her work in order to care for her mother for the last five months of her mom’s life. God powerfully used that time for healing and reconciliation. 

That is what God does with his disciples who “take up their cross.” God uses their voluntary suffering to ultimately bless them, bless others, and honor God! 

I pray you all a very blessed week!

Note: Sorry for the late posting. Dale+

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