March 20, 2015

The Way of the Cross

Philippians 2:1-8

Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

—  Philippians 2:8

Jesus challenges us to take up our own cross and follow him. He calls us to the spiritual discipline of submission. Paul says we must "have the same mindset as Christ Jesus," who submitted to God the Father all the way to "death on a cross."

Some disciples become martyrs, but most must sacrifice only their self-interest for the good of others, which is hard enough. So we look to the courageous Christ, the epitome of submission (see Luke 22:39-46). Paul's advice is that if we take "encouragement from being united with Christ" and "have the same mindset as Christ Jesus," we will have all we need to follow Jesus wherever he is going.

We learn Christ's mindset from Scripture, especially from passages like today's reading. Jesus gave us many examples of submissive service, such as healing, teaching, caring, and even washing his disciples' feet (John 13:1-15).

God the Son submitted to the Father from the beginning (John 1:1-5, 9-14), knowing he would eventually die on the cross. Now we are called to sub­­mit to our Savior. This isn't easy, and it's for life, but this is the glorious way of his coming kingdom.

Have you answered the call to the cross-life?

Lord God, you call us to the discipline of submission through bearing our own cross. Give us the encouragement we need each day to answer your call to the cross-life. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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