And he said to all, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. -- Luke 9:23
Friday, January 30, 2015
Legend of the Fallen
Jesus bore our burden of sin upon the cross. The good news of His death, burial, and resurrection is the revelation of His love for us, our salvation, justification, reconciliation, and peace with the Father. He offers to take the burdens that weigh us down and wear us out, and in exchange, He offers us a sack of slack to carry, a yoke that is easy and light. How does this square with the daily cross Jesus says each of us must take up?
I have been talking around this, I think, all week. I’ll probably talk around it today, too. The Cross frees us from the captivity and delusions of the world, the flesh, and the devil, but I’ve still got this natural human life to live out. We do not suddenly get translated to heaven when we rise from the waters of baptism. It would be a lot easier to be a Christian if that were the case.
Instead, we spend the rest of our lives dealing with, resisting, renouncing, and, ultimately, overcoming the sin nature. As I may have noted in the post about 1 John 3, Matthew Henry argues that Jesus did not carry away “ our moral infirmities, our proneness to sin”. I don’t know about anybody else, but I know for certain that my own “proneness to sin”, if it has been taken away, still calls home a lot.
My problem in this world is me. That’s the daily cross. It’s my tendency to blame other people, my feelings of selfishness and self-righteousness, my inclination to believe that I am better, somehow, than the people who get in my way. It’s easy for me to think that life should please me and go my way, that others exist for my benefit, that things should be fair and that, at the same time, I ought to be able to do pretty much as I please. So, constantly, daily, I get up and I pick that cross up, and I do a hundred things that go against the grain. I give in. I give others the benefit of the doubt. I help somebody else. I sacrifice, and, if I’m not careful, at the end of the day, I get to thinking I’m a really good guy. As Rick and Father Stephen point out, self-improvement is a loser’s game. The reason I carry this cross isn’t to make me better but to put my old, fallen self on fully display for what it is.
I watched I Am Legend, which might not have been the best choice under the current conditions, but I got through it. I watched the alternate version which makes more sense. One thing that really hit me is when Neville is offered the chance to leave and join other survivors, he resists, insisting that New York City is his site. “I can still fix this,” he shouts.
That’s one of my favorite phrases. I can fix this – except, I can’t. I can’t fix my self. But I can take up my cross and bear it.