Today, I would like to revisit the topic of shattering images, the topic of the last blog. In that blog, we looked at how the Gospel of Mark is written so as to shatter worldly images, and to replace them with Godly images.
Today, I want to continue our search for worldly images that are in need of shattering by focusing on the concept of discipleship. I want to return to the first passion prediction where Jesus tells the Apostles that discipleship involves both self renunciation and cross carrying. I think that a worldly view of this statement is that God created us to suffer. But nothing could be further from the truth.
God created us for glory; God created us for love. When he tells us that discipleship involves suffering, he’s talking about suffering through the transformation of becoming glorious, of becoming love. He is telling us that as a result of sin, we have been damaged, and we must suffer through the restoration. He is telling us that by our own sinful acts, and the impact of the sinful acts of others, we must undo the damage done.
This undoing of the damage done is twofold. There is the part that the human does, and there is the part that God does. It is our obligation to carry our crosses and to renounce ourselves. Today, we will focus on the concept of carrying one’s cross.
Cross carrying is the process of accepting what God allows to come our way. That through obedient acceptance of things that come our way, we allow God to use these circumstances for our transformation. In this acceptance, we learn to understand that all things work to the glory of God. We learn to understand that his ways are not our ways. We learn trust, and we learn the joy of allowing God to reform us into his image and likeness.
I want to stress here that sticking with on-going abuse may not be a cross. In fact, I ponder whether it is ever a cross. If you are accepting the cross of an abusive situation, I strongly encourage you to reach out to a spiritual advisor to prayerfully consider whether this is a cross that God has given, or one that you have allowed because of the Biblical language of accepting crosses. God can and will use an abusive situation to transform you. The question is whether it is a situation you should continue to endure.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit analyzing your own life. Do you continue to ask God why he has allowed things to happen, or do you ask him how to cooperate with him in carrying the cross(es)? Are you trying to control your own circumstances, or are you obediently submitting to what he has allowed to happen. Are you in a situation that causes you to ponder whether it is a cross or not? Spend some time praying and asking the Holy Spirit to help enlighten you to where you can allow him to be Simon for you. Ask him to help you lay down any crosses that are not of him.