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". (Matthew16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23 New KJV)
Imagine the shape of a cross. What comes to mind? Most likely, you have envisioned two wood beams intersecting at two perfect right angles one horizontal, the other vertical. Or it could be one of gold or silver on a delicate chain, worn around the neck or dangling from the rear-view mirror of your car.
Some individuals have a cross permanently tattooed into their skin, never to be removed with soap or faded by time. Crosses are inserted into earlobes. They are engraved into ring. They are etched into watchbands. They are printed on tee shirts and bumper stickers. These are a few of the things you might have visualized when imagining the shape of a cross.
Now, what might you think of if I ask you to imagine the shape of your cross? With that you have probably raised your eyebrow or scratched your head. Quite possibly you are either confused or intrigued. I hope it's the latter.
What is the shape of your cross? In other words: what cross are you required to bear? The shape of this cross (yours or mine) is not that which we picture when we think of "the cross" or "a cross". This cross to which I refer is "our own cross'.
This cross is not a literal, physical cross. If it were, I suppose it would be made of composite materials made of many elements and consisting of varied ingredients. This cross is specific to each of us. Some are heavier. Some are to be carried short distances, for a certain span of time. Others are to be endured for a longer duration, possibly for a lifetime. Like those tattooed into the skin, they are permanent.
Notice we are not told to take up the cross of Jesus; each is to take up his own cross. Jesus is instructing us to pick it up, to carry it, to own it and to follow Him.
Each of us has our own cross. Each is comprised of various elements, different circumstances and unique situations. Of these crosses, there are no two alike. Each has its own shape, size and weight. Each has its own distance to be carried. Each has its own specific purpose.
One person's cross could be in the form of financial problems or health issues. Yours might be in the shape of broken relationships, a ridiculing supervisor or a harassing neighbor.
You may have learning difficulties, a physical impairment or a nervous disorder. Possibly, you were betrayed or falsely accused. The shapes and ingredients are endless. They are crosses, nonetheless. We are required to pick up that which we are given and follow Jesus with it.
Thus He has concluded:
"Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:27 New KJV)
(This article was published in Pathway Christian Newspaper April 2012)
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