There are others who utterly despise the emblem of the cross. To them is stands as the emblem of Christianity and evokes hatred within their hearts.
I fear that the cross has been minimized in our day. We see it in western culture all the time, but I am convinced that most have no real appreciation for the cross and really give it little consideration. We are aware of its meaning, but few take the time to really consider the enormity and eternal implications of the cross.
I have given much thought to the words of our Lord found in Luke 9:23:
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Clearly Christ was not speaking of the cross He would bear. That cross was reserved for One who was worthy to offer Himself as the sacrificial atonement for sin. But we are commanded of our Lord to take up our cross daily, and follow Him.
Take a moment to consider the thoughts that must’ve ran through the peoples’ minds as Jesus made this statement. They were no strangers to the Roman crosses and the awful crucifixions. In that day, often the roads would be filled with crosses as men hung there dying. The cross was a cruel instrument of death. It was recognized as a brutal, and even barbaric means of death. Crucifixion was reserved for the vilest of criminals and there was little, if any, mercy shown to those who were condemned to this awful form of death.
Now, I had always looked at this verse as Jesus expecting me to bear my burdens, and there is application for that. There is much in life that we must endure for the cause of Christ. God often uses the times of difficulty to mature our faith and conform us to the image of His Son. We must bear our burdens, but remember the cross is an instrument of death. Taking up our cross doesn’t involve only bearing burdens, it involves dying to ourselves.
The greatest battle that any of us face is with the flesh. There are many hindrances that I face, but I will have to admit that my sinful flesh creates the greatest hindrance of all. If I am to enjoy victory in Christ, then I must be willing to bear my cross and crucify those fleshly, lustful desires that are associated with the flesh.
Consider these verses:
Romans 6:6- Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Galatians 2:20- I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Romans 12:1- I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
If we would be honest, few are bearing their cross daily in order to follow the Lord. There isn't a lot of denying ourselves and crucifying the flesh in our modern society. In fact, most of the time we give in to the desires of the flesh and feed it rather than dying to ourselves. The flesh is very demanding. It doesn't like to be told no. It is always hungry and desiring to be fed. Any time we seek to live for the Lord and serve Him, the flesh will seek something totally contrary to what the Lord desires.
Allowing the flesh to dominate our lives has had an effect. Our lives lack power and our churches lack conviction. Many of the problems we face in our modern society can be attributed to allowing the flesh to dominate our existence.
Do you long to experience a touch from the Lord and experience His power in your life? Do you desire the church to experience enough conviction to grip the heart of a lost soul? Are you concerned about the future of our nation? If so, could I ask how long its been since you took up your cross to follow Christ. We can see the power of God among us again. We can experience revival in our nation. But, if we are to experience a spiritual renewal, it must begin with bearing our cross for the Lord.