written by traveler
Often in Christian circles we hear talk of the old rugged cross and reference of being backed up to the cross etc, which all sounds so spiritual but what does the cross really mean. One thing that many miss is that Jesus was talking about the need to take up our own personal cross and follow him long before he himself actually got nailed to the cross to make the atonement for our salvation.
The thing is that Christ’s Cross may be central to the worlds redemption but the cross in general and what it means in relation to our own spiritual walk encompasses a great deal more. Take a look at the passage below, note the time frame of the topic covered, this was well before Jesus was himself crucified and he was teaching that we also have to take up our own crosses and what they represent.
Mat 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Mat 16:22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
Mat 16:23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Mat 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Mat 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Mat 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Consider what is revealed in verse 22 of the above passage. The message of the cross is very offensive to the natural thoughts of men. Peter was having trouble dealing with this and yes Satan does and will take advantage of this revulsion of the cross so as to derail the will of God but Jesus makes it quite clear that God comes first and the revulsion of the cross has to be endured if you ever intend to be accepted of God.
Now to understand what is happening here you have to grasp the significance of what the cross actually represents in the contexts of this society. The cross represents total rejection by the people of this world. Rejection to the point where the society of the day wants nothing more than to kill you and get rid of you and remove you from its midst with prejudice. It is after all the death penalty of that day like the electric chair or the lethal injection is today.
To be a friend of the world is to accept caesars way and come into agreement with ceasar but to be accepted by God requires being rejected by the caesars of the day and submitting to Christ instead and coming into agreement with God. You can only serve one master which means you have to reject the other which in turn requires that you have to endure the consequences of that decision and that is the burden of your own personal cross. For quite some time now here in the west Christ has been the establishment and the cross has not carried a price but this is not the normal and certainly was not the case in the days of the original Apostles. Because of this the full significance of what the cross represents has been forgotten but all that is about to change. Caesar is again regaining his hold and Christ is becoming more and more rejected by the world here in the west and the burden of the cross is going to once again have meaning to those that would follow Christ and seek after God. The time has come where the saints are going to have to once again carry the full weight of their own crosses just as the early saints had to under the rule of Rome. Being rejected by the world because of the offence of the cross of Christ is called persecution and the objective of the persecution is to bring the saints to the point where the burden of the cross becomes too much to bare and they fall away to the point where they once again submit to the caesar of the generation just to get by.
Now this natural desire to conform and be accepted as a part of the greater is used by Satan to corrupt and entice. Hence the reason Jesus made it very clear that there can not be any real compromise and you have to make a solid choice regarding who you are to serve in the full knowledge of what the price is going to be. But this same need for acceptance can and is used to corrupt the doctrines of the very faith that the saints cling to. The saints may be rejected by the world but they in turn cling to each other and seek acceptance amongst themselves which in turn opens the door for a corrupting influence to gain a toe hold. Consider the passage below.
Gal 6:12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
Gal 6:13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
In both the passage above and the one below we see an example of religious persecution at work. In Christ the saints are under grace because Christ himself is our sacrifice but there was and still is a push to bring back the old laws of the old covenant which in itself renders the sacrifice of Christ of no effect. The tool used to make this happen is the desire of acceptance by the perceived greater, when in reality it is nothing of the sort. To be circumcised is to be bound to the old laws which in reality only applies to the nation of Israel, no gentile nation was represented at Mount Sinai when God gave Moses the laws. But by bringing the church under the law the redemtion done by Christ gets rejected. In essence being enticed to come into agreement with a false doctrine has the same effect as being enticed into coming into agreement with caesar or the world system of the day. The lesson learnt is that to carry your cross applies to both the world and also religious settings as well.
You will notice that a lot of the modern denominations are trying to retain acceptance from our modern world system. They have lost the understanding of what it means to bare ones own cross and just how important it is. Those are the denominations that are basically in free fall. The worlds systems are offended by Christ. If the church is not an offence to the world system then you need to ask if there is any of the real Christ left in it to cause the offence that should be there. To demonstrate, if you want to clear a crowded room all you need to do is to start preaching about Christ and the salvation message, in no time flat half the people will have cleared out, if you do not want to be an offence and do not want the people clearing out the room then you have to compromise on the gospel to the point where it no longer is a gospel with any effect or power. If you are solid in Christ you will be an offence to people and you will be rejected by men, that should be the price you are willing to pay and the cross that you will have to bare. Paul explained this in verse 11 of the passage below.
Gal 5:10 I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.
Gal 5:11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
Gal 5:12 I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
Gal 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Now the severity of the cross is demonstrated in the passage below. The rejection by the world of the cross of Christ will split families, To follow Christ properly will require a commitment that leaves no real room of compromise, You all know the attitude directed to family members that go all religious etc. Well consider the Muslim boy that goes Christian, They understand the full burden of the cross.
Luk 14:25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
Luk 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Luk 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Luk 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Luk 14:29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
If there is one thing that the modern church and the saints need today it is a clear understanding of what the cross represents and what it means to them personally. In times past the saints embraced the cross understanding its cost but also with the understanding of the reward that is to follow. However those that have the most to lose are the ones that will have the greatest trouble because of the enticements of mammon. Jesus explained this very well in the passage below.
Mar 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
Mar 10:22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
Mar 10:23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
Mar 10:24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
Mar 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Mar 10:26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
Mar 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
Mar 10:28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
Mar 10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
Mar 10:30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
Now that passage gives a lay out of the requirements but also the promises. However the same rule applies regarding the carrying of ones cross as shown in verse 30. You do get a restoration but along with it comes the persecutions as well. To follow God is to suffer the rejection of the world as well.