"Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."
This month we've been talking about the scandals of Christmas. By now, we have unlocked the key to these scandals. The King's coming doesn't fit our definitions of royalty. Poverty, scorn, gossip, even murder surround Jesus' birth. All these scandals are hints that the way of the Christmas child leads to the greatest of all scandals-the cross. Jesus' scandalous death on the torture instrument called the cross would cast a long shadow back upon the manger in Bethlehem.
But now that scandal lives on in the lives of Jesus' followers. What makes the Christian faith different from all other religions is that it proclaims the good news of the cross. The Christian faith has the boldness to declare that through a cross the world was reconciled to God. And the Christian faith has the audacity to declare that those who are Jesus' disciples should take up the cross of discipleship.
Suffering is not only redemptive in the life of Jesus. It is redemptive in our own lives as well. Jesus will use our sufferings to establish his kingdom, witness to his gospel, and work greater holiness in our personal lives.
On this last day of the old year, here's a New Year's resolution worth keeping: Take up the cross of obedience, face the scandal that such a life of discipleship creates, and follow your Lord.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your willingness to bear our burdens. Give us the strength to bear each other's burdens and take up the cross of discipleship for your sake. Amen.
See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!