This month, our devotional has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free, compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Nicolae Gheorgita (Romanian Baptist pastor, characterized by simplicity and servitude), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (1 Peter 4:14)
Christ exhorts us to take up our cross. That is not easy. We do not want to suffer. But we need to realise that suffering is a part of our walk with God. If we only believe in God with our heads and not with our actions and deeds, we will not suffer. Only when we live up to God's standards will we face hardships. But what does the Bible teach us? 'If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.'
I already mentioned that I am translating Christian books from English into our own language. From the moment I started doing this I realised that sooner or later the police would arrest me for this. My wife and I had talked about the consequences. We realised that I could be put in prison and beaten for my work, that she could be left alone to raise our children. However, we decided that I should continue to serve the Lord in this way. He would take care whatever might befall us. I thank God for my wife and children. God has always been faithful. You know God not only exhorts us to take up our cross--He bears it with us. He bears the heavy part... I am just walking along. Let us not look at the price and pain only. Let us look to Christ. He bore the cross and went all the way. What a love. What a joy to be found worthy to suffer with Him. He is worthy.
A moment of introspection: Inwardly, if we are to be honest with ourselves, anything "not easy" is often relegated to the dusty corner of "when we have time," or the dark and remote "I'll look at it later" categories of consideration. We do not want to suffer. No one in their right mind would want to suffer. Somehow, though, we must bring the possibility of suffering, and the faithfulness of taking up our cross, and make sense of both in our own lives. Somehow, we must learn to respond to Christ's call--ponder it in our souls and our hearts and minds, choose to live out our lives as followers of Christ and give flesh to the meaning of the cross in our own neighborhood, workplace or family. Christ exhorts us to take up our cross (Mark 8:34-38); we acknowledge that.
He is not our postal worker, our grocer, our accountant, our lawyer, our … you name it; Christ is our Lord--to Whom we owe fealty. He is our Maker (to Whom we owe our individuality and talents), our Creator (to Whom we owe our very existence), our King (to Whom we owe our service and our possessions), our Savior (to Whom we owe eternal life, the reality of life beyond the present, and our hope for the future), our Redeemer (to Whom we owe our freedom from the imprisonment to this life and its siren entrapments). In each of these and more of His roles, we have obligation to respond to Him and His call upon our lives. He calls us to take up our cross. Will we? Do we have but a "head" belief in Christ? What would we be willing to suffer, for His sake, as a part of our walk with God? As our source would put it, in what ways would we be willing to experience joy (i.e., to be found worthy to suffer with Him) (James 1:2)?
Many examples exist, of Christians in our world "taking up their cross"--of Christians knowing the joy of being counted worthy to suffer for His Name's sake. A look at the "Latest News" section of the Christians In Crisis web site lists many examples that should give us ideas with which to formulate our "carrying our cross" responses, should open our eyes to the "insults" that Satan would hurl our way, should see how we could respond to others' cross carrying and suffering for the sake of the upward call of Christ, and should increase the boldness of our response--knowing that God, Who exhorts us to carry our cross, Himself bears the heavy part.
Christ exhorts us to take up our cross. It is time to decide. Will we do what our Lord strongly urges us to do?