Take up your cross

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

          "If you want to become my follower,
         deny yourself
         and take up your cross and follow me.”

                  —Matthew 16.24

The Christian faith is not a set of opinions about Jesus. It is a life of following him, practicing his self-giving love. To follow Jesus is to enter the suffering of the world. The cross is not an annoyance, a burden, an injustice. Your “cross to bear” is not the overbearing aunt. It is the fear of the abused, the tears of the deported, the rage of the dismissed, the weariness of the exploited, the despair of the condemned, the loneliness of the forgotten. It is bearing in your heart—perhaps even in your flesh— the suffering of others, and their infinite worth, to act for the sake of grace in their lives, to be in solidarity with the poor for the sake of justice. It is to embody God's grace amidst human failings. It is your grateful choice to suffer for the sake of love.

Lay down the sword of doctrines and arguments, the shield of your separate self, your privileged security, and take up the the cross of Christ, the risk and vulnerability of the Gospel, the courage to confront injustice and embody healing, the love of God, weak, naked and tender in this world, and more powerful than a hundred armies.