The Cross for the World

I just returned from a trip to our nation’s capital, and I came away with a greater respect for our founders and the ideals that they wanted us to live out. Here are some of those ideals as spelled out in the Declaration of Independence: 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
— Declaration of Independence

Our founders put it all on the line for a set of ideals which they may not have lived to see come to pass. They knew that to prepare the way for these ideals would cost them everything, not just in money, but in honor and in their very lives. Here is the way they said it:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
— Our Founding Fathers

In Washington D.C., we encountered stories of sacrifice, honor, hardship and courage for the sake of an idea - an ideal from which we have benefited. I was amazed at the utter selflessness with which our ancestors endured all kinds of hardships to give us what we so often take for granted.

What if we approached the kingdom of God and indeed even our local congregation with that same kind of sacrifice? What if the Great Commission and the Great Commandment so captured our hearts that we would, “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor”?

If that happened, I think we would see a picture of a New Testament Church! Instead, what we usually see is a consumer driven church where the comfort and entertainment of current members are paramount.

How different that is from the life Jesus modeled and the life Jesus called us to live. Notice the admonition Jesus gave those who aspired to follow him:

Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?’
— Luke 9:23–2

I still see that kind of living, though it is rare. I see people who serve the poor and our youth and children out of a true sense of calling. I see people give, not out of compulsion, but because it is part of living as a disciple. I see people teach children, youth, and adults because they want to pass the faith along to others. I see people serving on committees and teams doing work behind the scenes for the sake of the ministry of the church.

These acts of service and sacrifice are necessary for the church to move forward. It reminds that just as Jesus suffered and died to inaugurate the kingdom, you and I will need to suffer and die to implement it. As N.T. Wright succinctly reminds us, “Love will always suffer.” If we love God, the church, children, the poor, the lost we will suffer for their sake.

It is time to see the ideals of the kingdom implemented. It is time to suffer and work so others can know the God we love and serve.

Blessings,
Alan


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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.