Cross Bearing – the Normal Christian Life
by Margaret Silvester
‘Whoever loses his life for me’ is a saying of Jesus found in all four Gospels and in two Gospels more than once. No other saying of Jesus is given more emphasis. Jesus is saying that if you live your life for yourself, asserting your rights, needs and privileges, you have, in fact, lost it, because it isn’t life any longer.
George Muller, known for his great faith and ministry to orphans, was asked the secret of his fruitful service for the Lord. He said, “There was a day when I died, utterly died”. As he spoke, he bent lower and lower until he almost touched the floor. “I died to George Muller his opinions, his preferences, tastes, and will, died to the world, its approval or censure, died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends, and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God”.
In contrast we live in a self-centred world with all kinds of self-realisation and self-help techniques readily available; the mass of people wander through life searching for love, peace and acceptance and being constantly disappointed.
The normal Christian life according to Jesus is a paradox. You die to live. Jesus gives no options to His way for those who profess to know Him. In clear terms He says that to follow Him is to give up one’s right to self and to take up a cross. He is painting a picture of a man already condemned, required to carry the beam of his cross to the place of execution. The cross was a symbol of death.
The believer’s own cross is not an affliction. Because our text for today clearly says that we each have a choice – to take up our cross, and let it do its work in crucifying our sinful nature, or continue living self-centred inward looking lives. The cross becomes effective in our lives when it slays our sinful nature and sets us free from its power.
Watchman Nee uses the image of the cross being used like an axe to get to the roots of our sinful nature and cut us free from its power. Cross bearing means nothing less than giving one’s whole life over to following Jesus, without expecting reward or recognition. Surprisingly it’s the way of total freedom.
The Bible leaves us in no doubt as to what it means when it speaks of ‘dying to self’. I wonder if it’s a forgotten and untaught part of the Gospel. Cross bearing is a challenge to us all, but it’s not until we know the reality of continual ‘death to self’ that we can live out our true destiny, allowing God to use us and to bless others, in a world which rejects Him.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, today I thank You for Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross. Teach me to live my life focussed on Him. Show me what it means to take up my cross and follow Him as Lord of my life. Thank You for the joy and peace that this brings. Amen.
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