This is our actual mission in life. To want what God wants and to do so in an unconditional way, as much as possible, being courageously cognisant of same must be the pinnacle of human achievement.
At two visible levels such a decision is made. Firstly, it’s the realisation that this is both the best thing for us and actually God’s will for us, and secondly, each day, and during each day, fresh ‘micro-commitments’ are made by virtue of thoughts, decisions and actions congruent with the philosophy of carrying our cross; aligning to the kingdom perspective.
Very few human beings embrace this reality. This includes Christians, and ministers to boot. You only have to look at people’s lives to see evidence of them not doing it. It’s the ‘slow fade’ that breaches the covenant caveat generating the hypocrisy that stains the faith, proving God right about our nature--and our dire need of him--the original life-design.
It is possible to live in such a way as to reject the flesh-desire and the cowardly instinct to protect the self-interest we’re all born with and by nature are bound to. To defeat the natural, carnal inclination seems hard--and without the Spirit’s power, impossible.
The truth is dying to ourselves can become easy. Jesus warned his followers of the life to come should they seriously desire to follow him:
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it” –Luke 9:23-24 (NRSV).
Further, Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even life itself--such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” –Luke 14:26-27 (TNIV).
This life comes literally with great sacrifice to come in advance. We would emotionally cut ourselves off from those ties which would ordinarily hold us (if they meant the risk of contravening God’s will). We would bravely also hold those emotions in tension, not denying them. We would hold ourselves open to whatever God might have planned even unto physical death--not that God would usually require literal martyrdom, especially in Western culture in this day; but we are prepared to do this. What is one life worth?--for the Kingdom.
And these sacrifices are simply the beginning...
But spiritual martyrdom is a different story--he very much requires it of his followers. And he blesses those who engage in it. But it comes at a personal cost every time. Our task is to bear the cost in ardent duty to the One who calls, to the One who gives us life, abundantly so.
This commitment, which is really a bunch of micro-commitments, must be backed by prayer--not the staid, monkish image of solemn, formal prayer--but active-communion-with-the-Father type of prayer. This is about remaining personally hyperaware and relating with God second-by-second more directly than with any other being.
Is there a place for aggression in faith? Yes, there is. But the aggression called for here is not against a single person other than against ourselves and our own flesh. We’re called to aggressively forgive and to sacrifice ourselves aggressively, without thought for cost. Our love must be aggressively passionate. We’re to be aggressively kind. That is carrying our cross. And this is our purpose.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.