Take Up Your Cross

Galatians 2.20

'He is no fool, who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.'

Written by Jim Elliot just before his death. He was an American missionary who was murdered by the Auca tribe in Ecuador.

(An interviewer is just about to conduct a survey, but speaks first to the audience:)

Interviewer: The Cross was a fearful instrument of torture in Roman times; very heavy to carry, very cumbersome. The one who actually took up the cross was facing a road that would lead to death and he was never coming back!

The survey I've been invited to do today asks the question:- ‘Do ordinary people in the street, in this day and age, have any understanding at all of the word ‘cross’ and what does it mean for us to take it up and follow Jesus?

(enter teenage girl)

Excuse me Miss:- What do you think Jesus meant when he said, ‘If anyone would be a follower of mine let him take up his cross and follow me?’

Teenage girl: I got a luvly cross from me boyfriend for Christmas! It’s huge, chunky and all diamonds! It looks stunning with my black V neck top and me leathers! I take it up and put it on whenever I can. Wherever I go, it goes! (Silent pause) Does that answer your question?

Interviewer: Thank you! (She walks on. Enter downcast married couple) Excuse me, would you both mind answering a question for a survey?

Married couple: Not at all! (couple frown)

Interviewer: What do you think Jesus meant when he said, ‘If anyone would be a follower of mine let him take up his cross and follow me?’

Wife: I know all about that from experience. I’ve carried my cross for forty long years just being married to him! I’ve had it to bear all right.

Husband: Aye and don’t think I haven’t had mine to bear too, having to put up wi’ you and your nagging! (they go away arguing…You can’t compare the weight of the cross I’ve had to bear with the weight you’ve had to bear!)

Interviewer: (looks uncomfortable)Thank you… (Enter intelligent looking man) Excuse me, would you mind answering a question for a survey we’re doing?

Intellectual: Not at all!

Interviewer: What do you think Jesus meant when he said, ‘If anyone would be a follower of mine let him take up his cross and follow me?’

Intellectual: Well it’s all obviously fraught with meaning, and very cliché-ish! But what I’ve never been able to comprehend is what is meant when people say Jesus DIED on the cross for us! I mean there’s another cliché!

Interviewer: Well let me explain it to you!

Intellectual: Haven’t got time …sorry! Got a train to catch. (He hurries away. Enter bespectacled business woman)

Interviewer: Excuse me madam, What do you think Jesus meant when he said, ‘If anyone would be a follower of mine let him take up his cross and follow me?’

Business woman: Do you realize that by singling out the word ‘Cross’(makes inverted comma sign with her hands)and not referring to other symbols of world faiths aswell you are being politically incorrect? Are you being deliberately offensive?

Interviewer: I didn’t intend to offend anyone madam, I was only asking …(She marches off. The interviewer feels like giving up, when a 'Gentleman of the Road' enters. He wears a raincoat, which is tied by a piece of string. He looks very cheerful)

Excuse me, would you mind answering a question for a survey we’re doing?

Gentleman of the road: Nope!

Interviewer: What do you think Jesus meant when he said, ‘If anyone would be a follower of mine let him take up his cross and follow me?’

GM: Well first of all I see the cross as a musical instrument!

Interviewer: (puzzled) A musical instrument? Which one?

GM: A cymbal… of self-sacrifice!

Interviwer: Ah yes! You mean denying oneself?

Gentleman of the road: Aye an’ it was also a bridge wasn’t it?

Interviewer: Well… yes it was, can you explain it a little more to me?

GM: You know over troubled waters …a bridge between broken man and Holy God…so Jesus could mend things like and bring the two together!

Interviewer: Yes… thank you and anything else?

GM: We have to take up the cross like the offer in them pantomimes!

Interviewer: Pantomimes?

GM: : Yeah Aladdin! New lamps for old! Do you catch my drift?

Interviewer: Ah! Yes! I’m beginning to see where you are coming from! You mean a break with the old way of living and embracing the new! Dying to self, and living for Jesus!

GM: If you like! And as I understand it, taking up your cross is also like signing up on the dole!

Interviewer: It is?

GM : Yeah, it’s a commitment like! When you sign on, you can get offered a job, you do what you’re told to do and just get on wi’ it!

Interviewer: I see what you mean. You're saying a follower of Christ must go into action, and practice what they preach! Amazing anything else?

GM: Yes. When we take up the cross, nowt’s wasted. Things given to God never are!

After a dark stormy nights come a glorious new mornings!(He shuffles away)

Interviewer: Wow! You mean that after every cross, comes resurrection! (gazes happily at the man!) There’s hope for us all!

Talk to follow drama:

In the light of the cross, everything else is brought into perspective.

The sheer power of Jesus’ love, forgiveness and self-sacrifice…all call us to a NEW AND RADICAL WAY OF LIVING AND A NEW SET OF VALUES.

The cross is a SYMBOL of our death to our old way of life.

It is a COMMITMENT to the God’s perfect will for us, and NOTHING IS EVER WASTED. God’s sacrifices never are.

A glorious RESURRECTION FOLLOWED THE CRUCIFIXION, and if we live in the power of the Spirit, we will come to experience Jesus living again in us, and continuing his work in the world through us.

(I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Gal 2.20)

(inspired by an article by Bob Gordon in his book ‘Explaining The Cross’.)