Many faith believers wear cross necklaces, the cross of course being a symbol of Christianity. But being a Christian is a lot more than a symbolic act – it is a lifestyle we choose to lead.
Pastor and Author T.D Jakes writes in one of his latest books how he has been accused of preaching the prosperity gospel too much. He writes that he only preaches prosperity as much as he preaches on suffering. How can you have one without the other?
For whom is Christ if there is no cross?
I haven’t read of a person in the bible who hasn’t had a cross to carry at some point in their life. Likewise, I am yet to meet a person who has walked with Jesus for a significant amount of time who hasn’t had a cross or burden to bear.
One of the falsehoods of Christianity, I believe, is that in saying yes to Jesus we expect that everything will be easy. But Christ never promised this, He said – let your light shine before others. Matthew writes in Chapter 5, versus 15 to 16 (NLT) No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let you good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. In the good times, and the not-so good times (when the burden of what you are carrying seems so heavy) – let your light shine.
So, how do you carry your cross?
How do you carry the burden you have been asked to bear? Sick children, an estranged relationship... each and every person has a cross they must carry at some point in their lifetime. But this is when we must look to Christ.
2 Corinthians Chapter 12, verse 9 NIV
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest of me.
I remember when I would read out the prayer requests on stage in order to then pray and believe for healings. Many times, I would feel so burdened by the sheer needs of people and what they were currently walking through.
But when we feel powerless, that is when God is most at work.
When we can surrender our insufficiencies that is when God must be up to something.
It’s the cross that touches people.
Empathy is everything and being empathetic, does actually really matter.
T.A. Webb says that “a burden shared is a burden halved.” Or perhaps more popular in the faith community – “a burden shared is a burden lifted.”
Galatians Chapter 6, verse 2 NIV
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.
It’s in carrying a cross that we become most like Jesus
God desires that we become children of God. How do we do this? Through moulding, shaping and allowing God to use each and every situation in our life to enrich our life. Despite how you may feel at the time.
How often have you heard someone going through something only to mention years later how grateful they were for that experience? Not that you would wish it upon anyone, however with hindsight you can see the richness it provided and the things that you took away from that season of your life.
Luke Chapter 9, verse 23 NLT
Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
We each have a cross to carry at different points, but the key to getting to the other side is in who you choose to follow during that time.
Elise Pappas is a Pastor and together with her husband pastor a church on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. They have a son, Jonathan and a daughter, Sophie. Elise is a former clinical drug trial research coordinator and business owner. She writes about life and ministry experiences.