Welcome back to “Read Through the Bible.”
We’ve been traveling through the Bible together for 24 weeks; and, in the process, we’ve covered nearly half the contents of the Bible. I hope and pray that you’ve had a chance to learn and grow as you’ve been reading God’s Word with us, that you’ve had a chance to reflect upon some things that you believe about God, and that you’ve take some time to pray. In my own journey of faith, I’ve seen many times what the writer of the letter to the Hebrews meant when we wrote: “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.” (Hebrews 4:12) God’s word is alive and active, and changes lives.
This week we’re going to encounter one of the most important (and most misunderstood) statements of Jesus. Next Saturday’s reading will include the words: “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27) And as we read those words, I’d like to challenge you to think about what they mean to you.
Some people believe that an illness that they are facing is their cross to bear. Some folks believe that a “cross” has been thrust upon them when they lose a job and live through a time of unemployment. Many of us consider almost any challenging time in our lives to be the “cross” that God gives us to carry, and some even try to comfort others by telling them that “God will never give you more than you can bear.” And, at least to me, that’s cruel – and even spiritually abusive – because it shakes people’s faith and causes people to picture God as a God who piles more and more burdens upon our shoulders because He wants to see how strong we are. Wow! Now that’s a tough and rather cruel God!
So, let me ask you a question: What do you think Christ means when He calls us to “take-up our cross and follow Him”?
- First, notice that the “cross” Christ calls us to bear is one that we “take-up” – it’s not one that a cruel God thrusts upon us as a test of our strength and fortitude.
- Second, remember that the “cross” was taken-up by Christ for the sake of others – it wasn’t taken-up by Christ is prove His own strength and ability to face discomfort.
- Third, remember that the “cross” Christ bore was redemptive to other people – it was a “cross” that released the burdened and brought new life to the world.
- Lastly, remember that the “cross” Christ bore was willingly taken-up by a man who refused to be silenced, who refused to stop speaking God’s truth to people who were enjoying their positions of power, who continued to speak in total solidarity with the poor and the oppressed, and who continued to remind the “religious” people of His time that religious rituals and rules become empty when they’re devoid of love.
And so, let me ask you: “What cross are you bearing right now?” Have you voluntarily taken-up a cause, and invested time and energy in something that’s important and that ignites passion in your heart? Have you voluntarily taken-up a cause that has a positive impact upon the lives other people, and that lifts-up people who are burdened by harsh and cruel realities in their lives? How does the cause that you’re investing your time and energy in proclaim new life and peace with God to burdened souls? How does the cause that you’re investing your time and energy in speak God’s truth to people in power who are using their position of influence in an ungodly ways and call-forth the best in God’s people in a world where religious experiences and convictions can be both empty and devoid of love?
Here are next week’s readings:
Sunday: Ephesians 4-6 – Monday: Leviticus 4-6 – Tuesday: 1 Kings 14-18 – Wednesday: Psalms 72-74 – Thursday: Proverbs 5-6 – Friday: Ezekiel 7-12 – Saturday: Luke 13-14