“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 16:24)
Today is Labor Day (in the U.S.), a holiday honoring the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the nation. The monuments of blue-collar labor are visible in the homes we live in, the food we eat, the streets and highways we drive on, the bridges we cross, the buildings many of us work in, and on and on.
Physical labor is hard. It demands strength, stamina, the mental toughness to keep at it over long periods of time, and the commitment to do the job well. Relatively few do this work…but we are all dependent on those who do.
Carrying a cross is blue-collar spiritual work. This teaching by Jesus confronts the fallacy of “cheap” grace as it He explicitly identifies the chief demand on anyone who is sincere about committing to Him. The cross is to be carried on one’s back more than it is a gold chain around one’s neck. To carry it requires moral strength, spiritual stamina, the mental toughness to keep at it over a lifetime, and a commitment to doing the job well which is to glorify Him before all of heaven and earth.
The cross is an instrument of death and love: death of self and self-rule and love for GOD and others (whether they know Him or not). It is a constant reminder of the sacrificial life into which we have entered. Facing the cross, therefore, is not be a one-time conversion experience; the Holy Spirit will always draw the committed back and then back again to be reminded that we are not our own, that we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). We face the cross over and over again and carry it so that the remnants of self can be crucified and to continually recommit to the job of being living sacrifices (Romans 12:1).
This is a great and wonderful labor. Thank you to all who have borne it in days past. May those who bear it now find rest and glory in Him. For everyone else, the invitation to join is still there.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2021. All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.