Can you imagine wearing a miniature electric chair around your neck? Hardly. Yet, the cross was the electric chair of Jesus’ day.
The cross – a tool for killing undesirables, was taken from rough, unfinished trees. When they slammed your body up against it and nailed you there, the wood dug into your flesh. You got cut and bruised. The “electric chair” – that cross, was an object of certain death.
But the cross we wear around our neck these days is smooth. Comfortable. It glistens. Usually it’s made of 18 karat gold. An object of beauty. An ornament. Something “nice” to wear.
And the cross most “Christians” bear for Jesus also has a rather “nice,” ornamental quality about it. That’s because we reserve the “right” to choose it ourselves. So we ensure that in serving Him we do something that makes us feel good, and get lots of pats on the back. Nope, there’s nothing about our cross that has that nasty stench of dying flesh.
Many “Christians” today, like the smooth crosses they wear, are “nice” people. They pay their bills. They don’t chase loose women. They’re the kind of “nice” people you want living next door: Totally harmless in terms of being any threat to Satan’s domain.
By way of contrast, Jesus was not a gender-neutral, nonjudgmental, ecumenically-sensitive ‘nice’ fellow who set out to produce “nice” people. No, today, He develops radicals, and revolutionaries, who because of their beliefs and convictions are an affront to society. People who are no longer “in the loop“. People in the company who get transferred to Iceland. Or get murdered. (Remember: 10 out of the original 12 disciples were murdered.)
Thus, Christ forewarned his Twelve, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.‘ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also… ” (John 15:18-20a)
So, if you are viewed around town as a “nice” person, is it possible you are not really all that godly? Because, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12b)
Jesus’ challenge remains, “If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it, but the man who loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23, 24 – Phillips Translation)
The question also remains: Are you up to carrying His assigned cross? Certainly, the answer for each of us must be, “Yes, but only by His grace.”