Truly, absolutely I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
— John 12:24
We are living in trying times. The life seems to have lost its course, and so many of us feel powerless to correct its course. We begin each day wondering what happened to the world we formerly knew, and some are fearful of the future. But it’s very possible that Our Lord has allowed this opportunity in history as a reminder for us that this world is passing away( 1 John 2:17 ). Perhaps now is a perfect time to step back from textile things and remember that there is something more for which we were represented.
As Christians, our devotion is not to this world, but to God alone, through His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So what should be used do? Perhaps we should take this time to return to our beginnings, examining what it means to be a Christian in the world today.
The Christian Mission
What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to follow Christ? Two thousand years ago, it meant a ended changeover of one’s heart, knowledge, and soul. It often made a willingness to endure torture and demise. It conveyed knowing the promise of an eternal life that was infinitely more valuable than the world in which we live. That promise specified Christians with a purpose that transcended the pleasures of “peoples lives”.
For early Christians, the Cross was part of their identity, and they didn’t shy away from it. Very, they passionately followed their goal, whatever the cost.
What was that mission? It was to returning the Gospel to every man, woman and child, opening stomaches to God’s grace, that He might select every being to Himself. Christians recognized that this mission necessary a life of sacrifice; a denial of “self.” It intend cooperating with the Master Gardener as He pruned and organized them, ridding their hearts and souls of all that might obscure Him from vistum. For they knew that in order to accomplish their mission, they must be able to say with St. Paul, “I have been executed with Christ; it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me”( Gal. 2:20 ).
Today, this mission remains the same. Sadly, there is little evidence in the world of the Christianity of old. Our secular culture celebrates the temporal over the spiritual, and many of us have been beguiled by the daily demands and attractions of the here and now. As a make, many have floated from the Christianity of earlier durations. In fact, in recent generations, Christianity has even developed a honour in the West for soft sentimentalism. Christ has been reduced to tender emotion and unconditional ardour, wrapped up in a nonjudgmental rug of relativism. This is what Archbishop Fulton Sheen referred to as Christ without His Cross.
Many Christians no longer strive to engage in lives of prayer and sacrifice in order to carry out the Great Commission — and most aren’t even aware of what has been lost. Rather than seeking to reunite Christ with His Cross, they have destroyed the Cross wholly and used the scraps to build a sort of progressive humanitarian religion based on materialism and self-entitlement.
This development should induce grave concern for those of us who truly desire to follow Christ, for how can one follow in His strides if the Way has been fogged by generations of aberrations and misrepresentations?
This article is from Vicki Burbach’s recent notebook, The Lost Art of Sacrifice: A Spiritual Guide for Denying Yourself, Embracing the Cross, and Finding Joy.
Christ Calls to Us
It seems the only solution to this problem is to return to Christ’s words and find out what He actually said to His would-be followers. We owe it to ourselves and to Him to consider His call as He realise it, unblemished by the mores of different cultures 😛 TAGEND
If any soul would come after me, give him revoke himself and take up his cross and “re coming with me”. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my purpose will find it. For what the fuck is it benefit a adult, if he gains the whole world and surrenders “peoples lives”?( Matt. 16:24 -26)
The question is, how do we go about doing this? What does disclaiming myself was like? How precisely must I carry my cross?
Not exclusively are we to revoke ourselves and take over our meets, but we are to follow Christ in the process. And although we might be seduced to presume we are following Him through the pearly gates to an everlasting Paradise with the Father, many of us have somehow been indoctrinated to neglect a major stop along the way.
Before He leads us to Paradise, Christ would result in Calvary.
Like Christ, we are called to carry the cross and to be executed. Of course, we can ask the Simons in our lives to help us become our nature along the itinerary, and we are to be able to certainly help them as well. But at the end of our fated travel, whether that passage is a moment of consideration for someone else or a lifetime of hurting and suffering, each of us will be asked to climb right up there alongside Christ and relinquish our very animations. By this I don’t necessarily mean that we are called to be martyrs, offering our blood as a testament of our devotion to Christ — although, for some of us, that bawl may come — but rather that we render ourselves as “bloodless” martyrs, ready to release our affections, our desires, our advantages, our idiosyncrasies, our most wills, in homage to the will of God. Essentially, we are called to die to ourselves.
And if we don’t? Say we decide to climb down from the hill of Calvary and save “peoples lives” — that is, hold on to our attachments; prioritize our requirements, passions, and predilections; and put ourselves firstly? Well, according to Christ, in saving my own life, I will definitely lose it. But — and here’s the clincher — if I climb up on that cross, standing to the end, all in effort to lose my life for Christ’s sake; if I unite my will to the will of God, rejecting myself by providing myself; in that case, I am bound to find my life — and no doubt I will have it abundantly( John 10:10 ).
There is no greater contradiction in all the world than the ambiguity of the Cross.
Yes, sacrifice is hard.
But our spirits were started for relinquish. And deep down in the outermost corners of our middles, in places that we stop disguised even from ourselves, we know that this is true.
Sadly, generations of solace and excess and possibilities have weakened our wills. In fact, there are many who argue for the need to scrap the concept of willpower altogether. We have grown soft. We have lost our way in a world of materialism and self-determination. We have slipped from the cross, even disclaiming Christ, in order to avoid that call that speaks directly to the breadths of our hearts.
So how can we find our style back to the cross? How can we reconnect to the root of our very people? How can we find that part of us that perfectly knows we were represented for love? For sacrifice? We may be moved by the contributions made to the world by our fellow man, and inspired by all the saints who’ve gone before us; but how can we bring ourselves to participate in the type of life for which we were started? How can we find the joy that is waiting for us?
Whatever your experience with the cross, whether you struggle with a pain and debilitating illness or with encounter glee in the little stoppages in being, it is my prayer that you are able to reclaim the lost art of sacrifice.
Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a chapter in Vicki Burbach’s recent diary, The Lost Art of Sacrifice: A Spiritual Guide for Denying Yourself, Embracing the Cross, and Finding Joy.
It is available through your favorite bookseller or online through Sophia Institute Press.
Read more: feedproxy.google.com