“What are you doing George? You don’t work, just live off handouts. I don’t judge you because only the Lord can judge, but you do nothing right, then blame others.
“Only the Almighty can judge? What God is that? You can’t even see him. I don’t care what you think or say it’s my life.
“So what was Jesus life then?”
“Why do you always bring religion into the conversation?” George scorned.
“Jesus is the High Judge who took up the cross for us.”
“You know your history well he hauled a cross and was nailed to it, that’s if he ever existed in the first place.”
“Of course he existed there is over 500 witnesses of his crucifixion, and take up the cross does not mean that.” I said.
“So I am wrong again in my understanding, I take it, I don’t care what you think anyway.”
“Do you think Jesus cared when he died for us Brian?”
“He had no option, he was sentenced to death.”
“Of course he had a choice, he choose to die in human form for our sins.”
“Do you want to have self-fulfilment for the only path is self-denial?” I said.
“Are you cross with me?” George mocked.
“That joke is in poor taste, do you understand what it would have been like to die on the cross?”
“I am sure you are going to tell me.”
“To a person in the first-century, the cross meant one thing and one thing only: death by pain and humiliating means that mankind could develop.
Can you imagine carrying something along that you will be nailed to? Mocked, beaten and ridiculed? Made to feel so low you wish for a quick end?
Jesus was God in human form. He humbled himself for us. He surrendered himself to death on a cross as an act of atonement, forgiveness, grace, and divine love”
“The cross is an instrument twisted and evil. It marks the end painfully. Only corpses are removed from a cross, which was brutally executing anyone who did not follow the state’s law. It was designed for people who dared to challenge authority, people who threatened the balance of order. It was intended to inflict maximum pain and punishment. And it served as a final warning to others. Bodies were left to decay and to be food for birds and dogs.
“Sounds horrendous but I can honestly say I have suffered more than Christ. What do you say to that?”
“Really” I said
“Let me tell you some home truths. God is everything, lots of people could say they suffer or have suffered more than Christ, but you are a person of Christ not in his image. I am a son of Godand appreciate his suffering, and I am crucified with him. God has blessed us because he gave himself for us, for you and me. Truth will always bring confrontation.
“Sorry I am listening really” he scoffed.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
“Well you know the scripture I give you that” George said.
“There will be a day when all scripture will be destroyed, banned, and removed. We have to have the word of God stamped in our hearts and minds.”
“Why is that?” George asked.
“Satan and the new world order wants to destroy Christianity, how can I fight Satan if I have not the tools to strike back with?”
George seemed to be getting interested more.
“So how do you take up the cross I don’t understand?”
I said “Discipleship is Gods divine way just as embracing Him is on His terms. The Lord reminds us that the key discipleship principle of winning by losing involves self-denial, and total obedience.
Is Christ the master of your life George? Have you crucified your own plans and committed yourself to His will for your life? Don’t be satisfied with anything less, for there is no greater joy in life than following Christ every single day”
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
“The bible George is his love letter to me.”
“Umm I have never read the bible but you do make sense.”
“I don’t make sense God does working through me by The Holy Spirit.”
“Jesus suffered for us and took the sins for the world and nailed it to the tree. When I was baptized in water I was placed in Christ and baptized into his very death. We must take up the cross and follow him daily.”
“George don’t you want to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh, I want the riches of grace, why walk when we can fly like an eagle.”
“So what is take up the cross again simply put? “George asked.
“The idea is that nothing in our troubled lives is worth keeping if it means losing eternal life, not our jobs, family, money, not even our own identity. Jesus is talking about dying. Not just physical death, but death to self. The cross demands death to self-will, self-interest, and self-seeking. In the words of Jesus, it requires denying our self’s.
“So I have to give up everything is that what you are saying?” George asked.
“Just take of your flesh coat, and put a shiny spiritone on George.”
“Touch your heart and feel the difference. You have been changed. You have died to self and you live to God. Your goal is not to please yourself, but to please God. Your attitude and motives have turned around, from a benefits cheat, to someone who relies on others, but now relies on God for all his needs.
“Can I do this?”
“I smiled “you already have by accepting Christ as your saviour. The cross of Christ was the price of his obedience to God amid a sinful earth. It was suffering for having done right, for loving where others hated, for representing in the flesh the forgiveness and the righteousness of God amonghumanity, which was both less forgiving and less righteous. The cross of Christ was God’s overcoming evil with good. The ace in the pack for defeating Satan.
My cross is then no different; it is the price of my obedience to God’s love toward all others in a world ruled by hate. Such unflinching love for friends and foe alike will mean hostility and suffering for us, as it did for him, but I put on the armor of God and use the power of the spirit to always guide my ways.