Our cross to bear or taking up our cross?

This morning I will be celebrating at a nearby parish and was going over my sermon notes. Today is Proper 8, the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost. The thrust of my sermon is the cost of following Christ, of taking up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). As I was reviewing my notes a thought occurred to me that is not likely novel, but I had never quite viewed it in this way.

IMG_6400When we talk about “bearing our cross” we tend to use the term in two ways. Most often I think we tend to use it in the sense of “I have a cross to bear.” Meaning that “our cross” is something that we feel we are burdened with but cannot shed. It is our duty, in some sense, to bear up under the weight of “our cross.”

And yet in Luke the phrase is used in a very different sense.

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Here our cross is something that we choose to take up, each day. We are called as Christians to do that, just as Jesus voluntarily took up his cross, turned towards Jerusalem and willingly gave himself up to be crucified. So perhaps I have been thinking about it all wrong, all these years. It is not “my cross to bear” it is “my cross to take up.”

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