“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:12-14)
From The Christian Life in the Danger Zone
An equally important factor in “selling” the positives features of taking up our cross to follow Jesus is that in our journey of faith, no matter how challenging in the present moment, we have the very real sense that we do not walk alone. Not only are we “compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1), but we also carry within us the very real and tangible peace of God which comes with having Jesus with us and inside us at each step of the way. No matter how challenging the temporary circumstances of the present journey, if we can get quiet and still in our “prayer closet” before God, we sense the uplifting encouragement that Jesus knows the one right way to go.
I would like to make one final point before moving on, and it is a critical point in understanding this area of our motivation to take up the cross.
Jesus could not possibly succeed and win over the religious and political leadership in Jerusalem in the first century because the gulf between worldly conventional thinking and a God-composed journey of faith is too wide to bridge. The leaders in Jerusalem fulfilled the messianic prophecies of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 in crucifying Jesus precisely because of this wide gulf. They could do no other than to reject the lowly yet miracle-working Jesus of Nazareth because they were stuck in the horizontally conventional realm of worldly expectations, exercising faith in themselves and self-reliance alone.
In Luke 10:17 the story is told of the returning seventy disciples sent out to minister two-by-two: “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject unto us through thy name.” The disciples are excited and overjoyed at the possibilities in this new elevated realm of faith in God and service to mankind.
But the leading Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and lawyers in Israel in the first century couldn’t care less about the teaching or the miracles of Jesus. They did not care about healing the blind, the lame, the deaf and dumb, and those afflicted with leprosy. They wanted to know from Jesus: “what are you going to do about the Romans occupying our country?” and “what are you going to do about our economy…about improving trade and business…and especially about peace and an eternal kingdom in Jerusalem?” These religious leaders basically said through their words and their actions throughout the four New Testament gospels: “we do not care about your Sermon on the Mount or raising Lazarus from the dead.” A God-composed journey of faith life-script, following God by faith according to the tradition of Abraham, was the furthest thing from their minds (Jn. 8:23).