When it comes to following Jesus, love must rule our hearts. To love is first a choice, then it grows into a commitment filled with joys and problems. At times love becomes a crucial responsibility but when the love of Christ truly leads and guides our lives, we become more unified than divided, filled with a faith that is stronger than our doubts.
Yes, Jesus was really nice but why would religious leaders of that day be so mad at such a nice man. So mad, they wanted to kill him in the most gruesome way possible. Movies about Jesus don’t help because they often portray him as short and thin with long hair, almost like a flower child from the hippie era. Why would anyone get so mad at someone who is so nice?
It is one thing to hear: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up the cross and follow me.” It is quite another to literally give up our own way, physically pick up that cross and make those sacrifices as we focus on following Jesus.
This week: 1. We are dealing with effects of a ferocious string of winter storms. Many without power, especially in Texas. 2. Continuing issues with COVID-19 mostly centered around distribution of the vaccine. 3. Dealing with serious food shortages many children and families in our area.
Now, we are in the Christian season of Lent. At first, I wondered, how can we think about Lent with all these calamities facing us? But I realized something important: Lent is when we focus on enhancing our relationship with God. Remembering Christ’s life, ministry, and death through prayer, reading the Bible and helping others also teaches how God is with us even in a crisis.
If Easter signifies more than bunnies, brightly colored eggs and new clothes then hard questions must be answered. Jesus resurrection has to be more than an interesting story celebrated annually? The Corona-virus Crisis has dramatically illustrated the need for answers to significant concerns. Where is God when the world is suffering? How does Easter Sunday help us find needed answers and hope when facing significant Monday problems?
As you think and pray about what to give away:
• Pain can turn to joy. A decision to give generously and creatively can be a joy.
• Possessions will often possess you. Letting possessions go can be a liberating experience that frees up your time, your energy and restores your sense of peace.
• Stuff is just stuff. Material things provide little of lasting value but kindness and generosity have the potential to change lives eternally and provide opportunities to share your faith.
Take up your cross is about a commitment to a purpose bigger than ourselves. Christ accepted suffering because that was his purpose. The cross was his ultimate assignment and he was committed to seeing it through to the end. A bird’s purpose is to fly; but he must first be committed to the work and effort of flapping his wings over and over again. Our decision to shoulder the cross of Christ regardless of the cost is our commitment to “flap our wings” and to keep flapping until we finally fly.
Tough questions requiring thoughtful answers. Audits can be painful, but they offer valuable insights into your daily walk with God. The lessons learned can help you rethink your relationship with Christ and enable you to produce more fruit.