A few weeks ago I preached a sermon that continues to generate feedback from listeners.  The sermon addressed the seemingly counter-intuitive, paradoxical, even illogical teaching of Jesus about the command to “carry our cross.”   When Peter first heard these words, he said, “It cannot be” (Mark 8).  He could not believe what he was hearing: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

If you share Peter’s astonishment, you are not alone.  And yet the teaching is still true, after all these years.  If you really want to live, you will have to lose your fear of dying.  In the face of great danger or trouble, your greatest enemy is found not outside of you, but within you – that part of yourself that says, “I have too much to lose by doing this;” that part of yourself that says, “If I take this particular action, if I go in this particular direction, it will cost me the one thing I believe that I cannot live without.”  The way Jesus says it is more poetic than this, but it’s equally as shocking and illogical: to follow Christ, we must face down that which makes us flinch.

Why?  Because Jesus, time and time again, went right to the eye of the storm.  He stared down the noses of countless dragons.  He stared down the barrel of injustice, and violence, and Empire.  He went where others did not dare to go, and refused to flinch.

I have posted the entire manuscript here on Scribd.  Feel free to share the link with friends…


Photo Credit: nathangibbs