Cross

I’m not a fan of buzzwords or buzz-phrases that are tossed around like candy from a piñata, a piñata eerily shaped like a steeple. Case in point: “We need to take up our cross each day.” I think we miss the enormity contained within that statement. Consider the imagery associated with that. Better yet, consider when Christ actually took up his literal cross.

By the time Jesus hoists the lumber on his shoulders to drag it uphill, he’s been up all night. No one lets him sleep as they shuffle him from one person to another. He’s already been beaten senseless, flayed alive with chunks of his flesh left in a Roman courtyard. So much blood is bathing his body that wiping the puddled plasma off his face and out of his eyes is pointless because it also covers his arms and hands. His feet are undoubtedly sticking to the ground with each step there’s so much blood. Every movement he makes is a scream of agony, but even being still would not provide relief. It is at this point he is asked to take up his cross, a bulk of wood that will rest upon and dig into the gaping wounds covering his slashed body. At this point, he needs to take it up.

Here’s what I mean—I get so tired of fighting. Most days I just really don’t care. More often than not, I am perfectly content to just give in to it all: lust, anger, pride, whatever. I mean, seriously…what’s the point? It’s just going to be there tomorrow. Sure, I could succeed today, but it’ll start all over again the next day. It’ll never stop. True peace comes when you’re dead.

Now, true…the phrase “take up your cross” isn’t in the Gospel of John. It’s in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but every time I read John 10 it makes me think of that saying. Christ notes that since he’s the good shepherd, he willingly lays down his life for the sheep. It is very much a choice: “No one takes [my life] from me,” he says. We see this with the crucifixion. He decides when his time has come, chooses to not stop Judas, makes it a point to not fight back, and eventually picks up the cross. The point was made in my class, though, how Christ would also lay his life down daily, and it’s true. In the face of temptation, he would keep fighting; in the midst of constant pleas for his healing touch, he would compassionately make himself available; and in the demands for answers meant to trap him, Christ always stood ready to give an answer. And he eventually goes to the cross willingly. None of these things were shied away from. Jesus knows what he needs to do and does it.

Paul basically says in Colossians 2:20, “You died to the world, so why are you still playing along by its rules?” Dying with Christ means one thing to me very clearly: I am to mirror everything he did, and that includes a perseverance that does not quit just because I get tired. If Christ can work through everything he had going against him on Calvary to drag that cross up that hill, then the least I can do is daily lay down my life to imitate the example he put out there. Am I successful at this? Hardly, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make the attempt. It is only through tireless perseverance and a commitment to keep going that Christ changed the world. Nothing less can be expected of us if we desire similar results to be realized. We always talk about how God is love and all of those rainbow and sunshine attributes (which are true); interesting, though, that we hardly focus on his endurance and how plain-to-see it was.

And with that, this project is done. Your comments have been greatly appreciated, and I am so very grateful that you have taken the time to stop by here these last couple of months; it means a lot to me to know that you would do that.

I am always full of words, as those of you who know me are well aware of, so if there is a desire for these articles to continue, just say so; I will have no trouble obliging. I know you’re busy, though, and I don’t want half-hearted readers, so it would have to be a considerably significant response to have these string of articles continue. If a good number of you would like that, though, then I shall keep it up. If not, no hurt feelings.

You can let me know through a comment on this blog, a message to me through Facebook, or by e-mailing me. Enjoy your weekend.

Much love.

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4 comments
  1. Erin said:

    Hey Nelson,
    I have greatly enjoyed reading your blog, you have a wonderful way with words that really make me think. Thanks friend.

  2. Daniel said:

    Powerful imagery. What’s amazing to is that it was all because He loved us. He thought of each of us while going through that ordeal knowing full well that He could stop it whenever He wanted to. It is Christ’s love that should be the ultimate motivation, love for the people around us, people in the world, and the ability to forgive ourselves. Its a incomprehensible thing, so much so that Paul mentions how he prays that God will give us the power to understand it. In my past experience, only focusing on Christ and His love relieves the burden of fighting, if I focus on fighting and looking for motivation to fight, I will eventually be too tired and fall, but when we completely open ourselves up to Christ, the flesh is crucified. As Paul says, if we walk in the Spirit, we won’t fulfill our fleshly desires.

  3. Sarah Kyle said:

    Nelson-

    Thanks for your thoughts in the past few weeks. I think it is so easy for us to throw up our hands and say “I quit! This is meaningless.” But thank God for never quitting on us.

    I was working with some inner city kids at the beginning of this summer,and did this exercise with them where if one kid did a certain thing, the other would have to do pushups/wall sits/something of that nature.

    One of the girls that I had been particularly struggling with threw up her hands and said “I’m tired of taking the punishment for her! If she wants to do that, SHE can do the pushups.” I looked at her and said “What if God decided he didn’t want to take the punishment for us anymore?” Point made.

    We serve a God who is so great that he never throws up his hands and says “They’re just going to mess up tomorrow! Why am I doing this?” Praise God for that.

  4. Josh Dougherty said:

    Nelly,
    Thanks for the slap in the face! I hate to comment in fear of looking like an idiot compared to your amazing way with words. These have been great and I’m looking forward to you coming to visit up here in B-Town.

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