For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. I Corinthians 1:18
As I said in my last blog, most people view the cross as a very negative thing. Just the thought of it conjures up images of sadness, sacrifice, hard work, and toil. At best we relate to it like children taking castor oil. We deal with it because we have been told we have to, if we want to get better. So we take “our medicine” — bitter though it may be — by taking up our cross because one day we will receive a crown. This concept of the cross, which is by far the most popular, leads to three different types of Christians. I’ve chosen to name the three types the Martyr – the Happy Christian – and the Happy Martyr. In this bog I will deal with the Martyr.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word martyr as:
A person who is killed or suffers greatly for a religion, cause, etc.: A person who pretends to suffer or who exaggerates suffering in order to get praise or sympathy.
Therefore, the martyr Christian focuses on scriptures that talk about the suffering Christians must be strong enough to endure in order to please the Lord. To the Martyr the promises of joy, happiness, perfect peace and material blessings are usually to be realized in the “sweet by and by”: Now is the time for us to prove ourselves faithful through sacrifice, toil, and hard work.
When the Martyr Christian reads Luke 9:23 where Jesus said, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me: He/she views this as a call to deny one’s self of all pleasure and joy while her on earth. To this type of Christian lifting the cross daily does not result in his/her experiencing the saving power of God in their lives daily because it is viewed more as a task that Jesus requires them to do in order to earn heaven. Therefore, they must be strong enough to deny themselves and endure hardness like a good soldier while here on earth.
This view of the cross causes one either to become proud and self-righteous about his/her works, or discouraged and dismayed by the lack of them. Neither of which can experience the abundant life that Jesus promises his followers in John 10:9&10 where He said:
10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.
Which way do you view the cross of Christ? Do you view it as something that will give you life more abundantly or as something that will steal your joy, kill your dreams, and destroy your happiness?
Next week I will deal with the Happy Christian.