“And there went great multitudes with Him and he turned and said unto them; If any man come to me and hate not his father, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be by disciple…So likewise whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-27, 33)
Christ looked into the faces of the crowd on that day and declared in a plain, easily understood way, that He was not here to try and gain disciples who were not totally dedicated to Him and the Father. Jesus uses the most priceless of human relationships to illustrate what will be expected of those who would follow Him. Jesus does not teach that we are too literally hate anyone, but rather He is placing things in their proper associations of this life, if need be, to secure salvation. This is the only way the eternal scheme could possibly make sense as there is no cheap, easy, painless way to achieve the things we must have if we are to be forgiven.
There are no cheap crosses… no way to hang on a cross without suffering in a horrible way. Jesus purchased no inferior salvation for us. He paid the full price…and it was total dedication to His mission of “seeking and saving that which is lost” that made it possible for Him to pay the full price. No wonder He will not settle for anything less than a like dedication from each of us. Can you imagine Jesus saying…”Yes, I’ll die for you…when my weekend guests leave,” or “Sure, I will do the will of God, when I am feeling better,” or maybe even, “Don’t nail me to the cross while the weather is so bad”… Thank God our Savior put first things first and let NOTHING come between Him and the will of God. We must also express the same attitude and the same consecration if we are to please Him.
THE CHOCOLATE CROSS
It came in the mail with the usual “fund raising” brochures. A real chocolate cross for sale. It was called an unusual gift…one of distinctive taste…made of 3 ounces of solid real milk chocolate! You buy it for $1.25 and resell it for $2.50. For your annual Easter fund raising, you can just imagine what kind of money you could make off the cross at 100% mark-up.
As I read with amusement, it struck me that perhaps the manufacturer knew more about the religious world than I was giving him credit. As a “God-fearing” nation, we had bought and sold several “crosses” in the course of time. There is the:
PADDED CROSS This cross is especially designed for those who enjoy the social activities of the work of God, but “scars” and “splinters” don’t appeal to them. So instead of bearing the cross daily…one of endurance…it is easier to fashion a cross more to modern American needs – – a religion that is soft and relaxing with very little motivation to “suffer persecution” for Jesus’ sake.
RUBBER CROSS This cross can be bent to shape the current thinking of men. If the cultural adaptation to God’s values is off the mark, there is no need to call for repentance…just bend the cross to meet the world rather than the world coming to the cross.
DOUBLE CROSS This involves juggling two at the same time. One is carried on Sunday and Wednesday nights – perhaps at times when it is convenient to “be religious.” The other is carried much like a set of golf clubs…you keep it in the trunk until you need it.
(cont. from front)
We could go on with the white cross (Jesus died only for a certain ethnic group), the blue cross (there is no joy in Christianity), the purple cross (watch my anger turn me purple in the name of God). So why shouldn’t chocolate lovers have their own? My, my, we have run ourselves silly trying to accommodate everyone else.
Listen brethren…in all seriousness…
The church that will not bleed cannot bless!
The church that will not serve cannot save!
The church that will not die cannot live!
The church that will not suffer cannot redeem!
The church that will not express love is not God’s!
We need to get serious with this matter of cross bearing!