Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
Let me tell you about a recruiter who appeared at an Ivy League University. Representing some of the poorest school districts in the country, the woman stood in front of the students and said, “I don’t think I belong here. I was told this was a Beemer campus (a school at which the students are affluent enough to drive BMW cars), and I can see you are destined for success. There’s no point in asking you to walk away from that so that you can go to a poor place you’re not sure of, and where you probably won’t be appreciated. I wish you luck.” Then as the recruiter sat down she said, almost as an afterthought, “But, if by some chance I’m wrong, and you are interested in what I’m saying, visit with me afterwards.” The meeting ended, except for the mass of students who mobbed the woman, the students who thought their lives had a higher purpose.
That story gives me the opportunity to ask, “Do you think your life has a higher purpose?” Is it possible you were born merely with the objective of attending school, going to work, having a few years of retirement before someone says a few words over you at the cemetery? Is that all we are, all we were meant to be?
The Lord has never thought so little of us. When He made our first ancestors and set them in the Garden of Eden, He gave them a purpose. God’s purpose was set aside when humankind followed Satan’s suggestion to sin. Even though we discarded Him, God refused to reject us. In love, He sent His Son into this world to pay the purchase price for our freedom. In love, He sends His Spirit to call us to faith and to a cross.
Nowadays, it’s fashionable for ministers to say “when you become a Christian, your life will be sweetness and light.” Jesus makes no such promises. On the contrary, He says, “If you follow Him, you will carry a cross.” I cannot, at my computer, say what your cross may be. I do know it is a special thing, designed to strengthen your faith, make your witness more solid, your faith more sure. God has allowed this individual cross to come so that your life, relying on Him, may have a higher purpose.
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached on July 4, 2004—Independence Day / Canada Day
THE PRAYER:Dear Lord, sometimes I struggle with the weight of the crosses I carry in my life. Fill me with Your strength and wisdom, so that bearing my crosses will strengthen my faith and make my witness and faith more solid. I know that I must pick up my cross daily, and I cannot do it alone. I put my reliance in You, Lord, and I trust in Your promises. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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