This past Christmas I looked for that “little something extra” for my daughter’s Christmas stockings. I wanted to do something special, not the usual fare of chocolate and socks and nail polish. And I found these wonderful bead bracelets with a bit of bling on them. Not only were they on sale, but as a bonus I found one for myself, with a sideways cross on it.
Today, I wore my bling cross bracelet, the “I am a Christian” statement accessory. But as I looked at it, I realized how far away it was from the intent of my beloved Jesus. Nestled in the center of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus makes His first reveal about the cross, and His death and resurrection:
[Jesus] then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again.
Peter was so horrified that he impulsively took Jesus aside and rebuked Him for having said it. Jesus turns it into a teachable moment for His entire crowd of followers:
Then [Jesus] called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.”
I trivialize the cross to wear it and think it makes a statement. The cross Jesus beacons us to carry is not studded with sparkles. It is not meant to be carried on our wrists as a fashion accessory. His cross is to be carried on our backs. Its presence tests us. Its weight transforms us. Our journey with it prepares and beautifies us.
I carry my cross not with what I wear but with what I do: with a kind word to the irritating client, with patience to the older woman who needs a listening ear, and with loving words and home-cooked supper for my family. I carry my cross when I go out of my way to organize a family dinner out for my mom, hold my mother-in-law’s arm when she walks down the stairs, play cards with my grandson. In the end, I find it is true that His yoke is easy and His burden light. Because the cross I carry brings joy back to me when I embrace it.
Ok, I am not going to toss this bracelet. I like it a lot. But as I look at it, Beloved, remind me that Your cross cost You dearly and freed me completely. Remind me that my cross sometimes is painful but in the end my crown will be more stunning that any bling I can buy on earth, and I will cast it at Your feet to show my gratitude and love for You!
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me and for the gospel will save it.”