As I did my quiet time this morning, I read the account in John where Jesus, 'Carrying his own cross, went out to the place of the skull (which in Aramaic is Golgotha' (John 19v17), and I was deeply moved with Jesus' attitude towards his duty and passion. As Christians, we often speak of taking up our cross as if it were a burden/trial, when the truth of the matter is that Jesus' walk, towards to the hill where he knew he was going to die, speaks of a number of things different to this.
God laid several things on my heart regarding our attitude towards taking up our cross. They are, that we should take up our cross:
Daily - there's no such thing as a weekend or CU-Chrisitian. We are called each and every day to serve God. This means a daily dedication to serve God, first thing in the morning til last thing at night. If we are only living for God, or 'giving him' Sundays and bible study meetings, then we cannot have truly understood what we are living for!! We are called to serve God, not out of bondage or duty, but because we are now 'Slaves to Righteousnes' (Romans 6:14-19), living under and in God's Grace.
Faithfully - God does not expect us to carry our cross on our own, as if he were one of the crowd watching, booing and cursing as we walk by. No, he is the one who steps out of the crowd, endures the booing for our sake, and helps us carry it. If we take up our cross, God is faithful to give us the strength of character, heart, mind and soul to be faithful to him in our lives.
Humbly - The cross is not a status-symbol. When we take up our cross and follow Jesus each day, this is humbly and in great awe of who Jesus is, and what he accomplished on the cross for us. If we do boast, then let it be in the cross (Galatians 6:14) and in what Jesus achieved for us through it.
Joyfully - This was the most challenging aspect of my quiet time this morning. Why should & how do we shoulder our cross joyfully? We should do this, because in Joy, there is a large element of willingness to do it. We do this, not because we have to, but because we have a passion to grow in and live for our Lord and saviour. We should do this joyfully because this is an outworking of God's love in our life. As for how? It comes down to 'What is your heart focussed on?' If it is on the praise and recognition of other people, then the joy will not be there. 'You cannot serve two masters'. To joyfully serve God, I have come to realise that we must have our hearts in the right place firstly. It is only then that we follow humbly, faithfully, daily and joyfully. With our hearts set on God, carrying the seemingly cruel (at times) cross-beam of our faith, becomes the humbling awe-inspiring daily walk that it ought to be.
Never lose the wonder of the cross - it shows love incarnate, beyond our understanding. Never forget, that the reason God loved us that much to send his son, and still loves us now, is because we are, and always have been, his.