Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How To Be A Man: Take Up Your Cross

The "Cruci-Lounger" by LaZee Boy! Now being a Christian is easier than ever!
We're taught all our life that "real men" are tough, show no weakness, never cry, and never give up. Except when it comes to daily living for Christ. The hardship of true discipleship seems to escape us under the guise of "It's a crutch" or "Religion is only for women and children".

How is it that the toughest task in all the world is either relegated to "pansyism" or "weakness"? Or worse yet, we carry our Christianity with the same effort and care as we carry a pocket hankey--just in case. Either way, we've adopted the idea that Christianity is as easy as sitting in our recliner and popping our feet up.

Okay, I hear you saying, "Isn't Christianity supposed to be easy? Didn't Jesus say that if we take His yoke on us that our burden would be light?" Um. yeah. Remind me to visit a blog about THAT later. Anyway, while Christianity isn't meant to be UNBEARABLE...it isn't exactly EASY either.
Been there, done that...got the T-Shirt!
Christianity is more than just a comfy, tagless t-shirt. It's more than your holey (holy, get it?) underwear and baggy sweats. Christianity is a lifestyle that is opposed to our natural, sinful nature. Our comfortable, "go-to" behavior is at odds with what God's Spirit wants in us! Even Paul struggled in this regard:
Romans 7:14-15 (KJV)
14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

The internal struggle that all men (and women for that matter) endure makes it impossible for life in the Spirit to be a cake-walk. Like Paul, we KNOW what we should do, but find that we DON'T do it. And vice-versa. What we know we SHOULDN'T DO, we fall back into that old, familiar habit again and again. Where's the easy again?
If only it were so...
If we war in our flesh to do right and live by the Spirit...and let's be honest for a moment, it ain't easy (see the post on making covenant with your eyes), what can we do? Paul said we should crucify the flesh (Romans 6:6) so that the "old man" is destroyed and we are "new creatures" (2 Corinthians 5:17). To put like simply...hear the words of Christ:
Matthew 10:38 (KJV)
38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Ouch! If we're NOT willing to take up our cross then we are not worthy of Christ? Okay. So...does He mean wear a cross on a necklace? Walk around town with a wood cross on our back (I actually know a guy who does this)? Walk from coast to coast with a cross on a wheel--attracting media attention? Somehow, knowing what Christ went through with His cross, I seriously doubt this is what He meant about OUR cross.
marshmallow cross...so light, fluffy and sweet!
Being a Christian isn't something easy. It's not a "crutch" or only for women and children. It's tough. But it's worth it. It's a daily struggle, but the win at the end makes it doable. Runners don't start the race and then quit half way through. They run to win. They discipline themselves, they diet, they work out--constantly. They force themselves to push through the "I don't wannas" and the runner's "wall". They press on to the finish line. Why? To win the prize! The prize we strive for is not of this earth. It's not a t-shirt or trophy. It's not riches or fame. It's not anything that can be measured by other men. It's the joy of hearing "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"

Are you up to the challenge? Can you "man up" and face the hardship of following Christ? Will you take up your cross and bear it daily for the cause of the Kingdom? I can't answer that question for you, but I can tell you this. If you can't stand for Him before the world, why should He stand for you before the Father? 

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