“Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ?” John 7:25-26.
The only way to remain a Christian in this world where evil always seems to gain an upper hand over good is to recall that Christ himself said in Matthew 16:24 “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Also in Matthew 10:38, Jesus added: “He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
In fact the only way to make sense of the Christian life is to look at it from the perspective of a cross. Being a Christian is not a ticket to a life of luxury, peace and comfort, it is rather an invitation to a road less travelled; it is standing for what is right and having to face the ridicule, insults, oppression, pain and humiliation of many who practically belong to this world. As the book of Wisdom says:
Ungodly men reasoned unsoundly saying: “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; … let us test what will happen at the end of his life; … Let us test him with insult and torture,… Let us condemn him to a shameful death,… Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray, for their wickedness blinded them.” Wisdom 2:12-21.
Jesus knew exactly what he was saying when he said those who will follow him must be prepared to carry the cross. He knew that anyone who tries to serve him diligently in this world will surely not find it easy at all. He or she must have to swim against the tide because wickedness and evil is more popular than good.
The Christian life is a battle yet we are not wrestling against people (flesh and blood) but against principalities and powers who work through people to make life difficult and tough for anyone who strives to serve God. Ephesians 6:12. These principalities and powers are not visible but their manifestations are very obvious. We sometimes assume people are enemies but the truth is that we have only one enemy; the thief who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. John 10:10.
If we do not realize that we are carrying a cross, there is a tendency for us to drop it without even knowing. We could actually forget what the Christian life is about and begin to serve other gods unknowingly by making a priority of comfort, wealth and fame. This is what the gospel of prosperity does. It is a distortion of what the Christian life is about.
If we forget that the Christian life is a cross, we would not understand why we can’t have bread in place of stones, why we can’t have the glories of this world or why we just can’t be popular or have people respect us. These are the temptations of Jesus and the same temptations we constantly face and the only way we can overcome any temptation is to choose the cross.
Jesus rejected the “good life.” He wouldn’t turn stones to bread, he wouldn’t work for his personal satisfaction, he wouldn’t bow to the devil in exchange for riches or popularity, he wouldn’t dance to the tone of the world, he wouldn’t economize the truth or pretend just to gain the acceptance of men. Jesus knew the people were planning to kill him, he heard them say: “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill?” (John 7:25) yet Jesus did not stop preaching the truth.
Dear friends, do not give up on righteousness. Do not drop the cross. Do not be discouraged when the going becomes tough and you don’t feel like moving on anymore. Do not be taken aback by insults. Jesus’ nickname was “Beelzebub.” Do not get tired of being good even when your goodness is used against you. Do not stop forgiving people, you have only one enemy; the devil. Do not seek after life only on earth, be prepared even to let go of your very life in exchange of a better life in heaven.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, help me not to understand that there are trials that must come and may I never give up when I face persecution for your sake. Amen.
*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Friday of the 4th week of Lent. Bible Study: Wisdom 2:1-22 and John 7:1-30).*