And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:23 (ESV)
Several years ago, I saw a man walking down the street with a big wooden cross on his shoulder, positioned in the way we often see depicted in movies of Jesus on the road to his crucifixion. No doubt the man’s goal was to make a point about faithfulness to Christ by literally “taking up his cross.” Perhaps he desired to inspire people through his sacrificial gesture of publicly bearing this load of a religious symbol through the streets of the city. It inspired me, but not in the way he may have anticipated.
Upon closer inspection, I noticed the man’s cross had been fitted with wheels at its base. In that moment whatever impact the gesture might have had was tainted, because the message it communicated was, “I will bear my cross for Jesus as long as I can make it a little easier.” All these years later I am still left with the impression of a man who wanted the look of the cross, but not the actual struggle.
In recent months it has occurred to me that the majority of Christians in America today have never genuinely had our resolve for Jesus tested. Being part of the church has become so normalized that we have not been compelled to put everything on the line in denial of ourselves to follow him. For some, the result is a faith that likes the look of the cross, but not the struggle.
For example, it has been all too easy for some to make things like online services the new normal because it is comfortable and safe. Meeting publicly with the church is still deemed “too risky,” yet, they willingly “risk” going out in public to perform “necessary” errands daily in settings that are far less “socially distanced” than most church buildings on Sunday morning. Could it be that we want to bear our cross only if we can add wheels?
I understand there are still concerns to be grappled with, such as those who have legitimate, elevated health risks. My goal is not to air out complaints, but simply to make us think. Think about the level of commitment we are demonstrating to Christ in what may be the most trying time in most of our lives. Are we committed enough to take the wheels off our crosses and fully deny ourselves every day? Or will we only pick up the crosses that have been modified to make life easier?
Think about it.