SIMON PERRY

P1030950

TAKE UP YOUR CROSS

 

Luke 14:25-35

 

A generation ago, two gunmen ran into a church, pointed their Kalashnikovs at the congregation, and shouted, ‘If you’re not a Christian, get out!’   About two thirds of the congregation hurried out of the church.  The intruders put down their guns, and said to the pastor, ‘Now – we can worship God properly!’  Liturgically, it was an eloquent call to worship, because the Christ they worshipped had said, ‘you cannot be my disciple unless you take up your cross.’

 

You cannot understand Jesus from a safe distance.  

 

Those who carried their cross had been condemned to execution.

They were carrying the cross bar, which would be hoisted onto the vertical wooden stake on which they would die.

Those who carried the cross were condemned criminals.  They were unsuccessful rebels, failed revolutionaries. Their property, their inheritance, their legacy, and even their name, was taken from them and given to the state against which they had rebelled.

 

They were dead men walking.  Or women.  The cross did not discriminate:  rich and poor; young and old, Jew and gentile, it took them all to the same place.  It was ruthlessly egalitarian.  

 

When you carry your cross, everything you have is forfeit.  Everything you love is lost.

When you carry your cross, all your smug certainties evaporate.

Your real priorities are revealed for what they are.  And so are those of other people.  

When you carry your cross, you have nothing left, and you can see clearly.  You can see clearly enough to learn.

 

Jesus said you cannot be my disciple, unless you take up your cross.

 

You cannot understand Jesus from a safe distance.

 

No matter how sound your theology.  

No matter how insightful are your instincts or how sharp your intellect, you cannot understand Jesus from a safe distance.