We sing songs about clinging to the old rugged cross, but are we actually clinging to an image of the cross. Have we made the symbol of the cross into an idol?
As Christians, we treat our faith walk like it’s all rainbows and unicorns. We talk about peace, love, joy, white robes and streets of gold. And all those things are valid and true; we do have those things through Christ — well, not the unicorns.
The point is: are we treating the cross like a fairy tale with a happy ending instead of obeying the call to a life of obedience, even unto persecution, for the sake of it’s message?
On one side of the coin, we sit in our cozy, beautifully decorated homes with plenty food to eat, multiple cars in the driveway, nice clothes in the closet and call ourselves blessed. And we truly are. Even the poorest among us is still blessed compared to many around the world.
But Christ didn’t call us just to be blessed.
There is another side to the spiritual coin. The side where Christ requires His church, those that love Him, to pick up their own cross and follow His example.
Christ’s call to His church is to live a life of sacrifice — following Christ even when it isn’t convenient, popular or when it threatens our lives. And quite frankly, we just don’t get the fullness of that here in America.
Ask the 21 Egyptians what it means to take up a cross and sacrifice themselves for their beliefs. Ask their widows, children and parents, what the cost of following Christ is really all about.
In February 2015, Franklin Graham has warned on his Facebook page:
“As we mourn with the families of those 21 martyrs, we’d better take this warning seriously as these acts of terror will only spread throughout Europe and the United States. If this concerns you like it does me, share this. The storm is coming.”
And again, when he addressed the Oklahoma State Evangelism Conference:
“There are storms that are coming, and we find ourselves in these storms, and many times we as a church, we run and we run to the wrong place. You see, Jesus is in the boat. All we have to do is call Him, call on His name. Sometimes that will mean facing ridicule from a secular world, But the people of God have to stay strong.The secularists and the humanists, you mention the name of Christ, they jump all over you, I get jumped on all the time. I don’t care. I really don’t.I gave my life to Christ. He died for me; He shed his blood for me. I’m not going to back up, and I’m not going to run.”
With the Supreme Court passing same sex civil unions, five military members murdered by a “homegrown violent extremist” (1), and other attacks both on our people and our beliefs, the American church is being forced from their comfort zone. We will have to make a decision.
- Are we going to pick up a cross and give sacrificially, or are we going to remain comfortable?
- Are we going to proclaim Him when it threatens to radically change all that we know in our lives?
- Or are we going to remain quiet inside our safe place of religious traditions?
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty ( but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’”
Revelation 2:8-11 ESV
(1) Edward W. Reinhold, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Knoxville office as quoted in New York Times article
Blog original published date: February 26, 2015