Have you heard the saying: “We all have a cross to bear?” Jesus tells us that in order to be his disciple we must “carry our own cross” and follow him (Luke 14:27). If you’ve ever seen a movie or television depiction of the story of Jesus, think about the part where the Roman soldiers have Jesus carrying his cross to his crucifixion. It was heavy. He was tired. But he had to carry it to the end. He couldn’t set it down and walk away. There was a moment where someone came alongside him and shared the burden with him. Carried his cross for a little while to give him some rest. But it was still his cross to bear.
So what does it mean to carry our cross? If we recall great people of faith, whether from the Bible or in more recent generations, we see many examples of crosses they had to bear. We hear stories of missionaries that have suffered, sometimes to the death, because their loyalty to Jesus was always first. We hear stories of brave Christians that defied authority to stand for their faith and suffered imprisonment and worse. And even today, we each have our own cross to bear. Some may include these types of sacrifices, but in most cases – it amounts to varying degrees of ridicule and rejection for standing on our Biblical values. We may be called intolerant bigots when we refuse to accept new societal norms. We may be called weak when we confess our dependence on God. And when we dare to proclaim that Jesus is the only way to salvation – we may be called narrow-minded.
The Bible says that one day Jesus will return to judge everyone. (And Gods got a perfect track record when it comes to predicting the future.) Then, sadly, those who ridiculed his children and scoffed at our message will suddenly realize that everything we stood for was right – and it will be too late. But for those of us that carried our cross all the way to the end – we will have Jesus by our side to stand up for us as we’re ushered into the presence of God.
Jesus gives us some encouragement in regards to the persecution we will face:
“I’m speaking to you as dear friends. Don’t be bluffed into silence or insincerity by the threats of religious bullies. True, they can kill you, but then what can they do? There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life – body and soul – in his hands.
“What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail – even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. Stand up for me among the people you meet and the Son of Man will stand up for you before all of God’s angels. But if you pretend you don’t know me, do you think I’ll defend you before God’s angels?” Luke 12:4-9 (The Message translation)
So hang in there! Jesus is paying attention — and he knows you’re not wavering. Someday we will be able to set our crosses down at his feet.