Christianity isn't built on principles, a philosophy or practices, although it contains those elements. The uniqueness of Christianity rests on the cross and Christ’s triumph over death. We need to be reminded of this lest we lapse into believing faith in Jesus is just another self-improvement program. Lest we are lulled into a lethargic view of believing Jesus. To be sure, it's much more. This week we take a break from our journey though the Book of Acts to contemplate on Jesus’ death, resurrection and the events leading to it. If these Devos challenge you, speak to you or stir you, feel free to repost them or pass them on to others.
“. . . put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus." Luke 23:26
Carrying the cross is increasingly more difficult because our culture no longer has a reserve of Christian formation, or a language of hope, to inspire a deep devotion to Jesus. There's always something else being placed on our shoulders.
When life becomes more and more disconnected, frenetic and frightening, we cling to whatever offers us a quick release from stress, strain and struggles. But, in our grappling and grasping for the temporary, we lose Jesus. Whenever the important and eternal is traded in for the superficial, faith becomes flat and frail. It's easy to get caught up in the appealing sparkle of the quick solutions our culture offers.
We can be lured away from God’s way of life. There are some dangerous attitudes we need to step away from in order to find faithfulness to Jesus again.
Self-interest - Narcissism can pass as spirituality. Often a pursuit to know God’s will is nothing more than wanting to control the outcome and feel good about ourselves.
Self-improvement - Some claim to offer a quick path to greater faith in only a few weeks, instead of calling us to perseverance and the practice of discipleship, which creates an atmosphere of repentance, selflessness and leads us into the resurrected life of Christ within us.
Self-importance - Fame is a hunger for influence and position we want to hold with others. We've been deceived by our need to be accepted by others into abandoning the health of our communion with God.
Self-indulgence - Both television and trade books promise that by following certain formulas we will be blessed with wealth. The attraction to more things is insidious. We should be cautious of believing that wealth is a sign of spiritual maturity.
Self-interpreting - Giving selective attention only to the verses we like to hear, while overlooking the hard sayings of Jesus, and the tendency to explain scripture on how we see it, rather than what it means in the full context, can warp our worship of Jesus.
The central problem of these attitudes is self. Those who carry the cross are not preoccupied with themselves. Staying in step behind Jesus is an unselfish act of worship. Carrying His cross helps us to locate Jesus. And, once again, gain back holy ground we once thought lost.
Take a sheet of paper, draw a cross, place your hand over it. Ask yourself this question: Is my attitude selfishness or selfless?