THE SECOND CROSS
AUTHOR – BILL TAYLOR
COPYRIGHT 2017 – BILL TAYLOR
PUBLISHED BY BILL TAYLOR AT Shakespir
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Special thanks to Shila and Pragna for their encouragement and inspiration
1 – THE WALK OF THE SECOND CROSS
2 – NOTHING HAS CHANGED
3 – IT’S A SERIOUS JOURNEY
The Walk Of The Second Cross
Often throughout the gospels we read “As Jesus went’’, this or that happened, making clear that our Lord’s ministry on earth enveloped a constant dynamic of “walking” into needs, not by happenstance, accident, or coincidence, but rather pre-ordained by God encounters that were recognized as such and appropriately ministered to accordingly. It would seem, Jesus never went anywhere without something profoundly important happening!
I find it personally insightful that there were no wasted steps. He never simply took strolls from point A to point B for the sake of getting to point B. No, each time the foot of Jesus touched the ground it did so with keenly focused purpose. A purpose He has passed on to us!
Jesus knew who He was, why He was here, and invested His every breath spiritually immersed in the awareness of His purpose. No drifting, floating, or days off in our Lord’s agenda. Each day was counted as equally and emphatically important. He was here to reveal the heart of God to a world that desperately needed that revelation.
Interestingly, we are here for the exact same reason with the exact same purpose. In fact, there is none other for us, by inheritance!
We also repetitively read throughout the gospels these two challenging words of crystal clear direction from our Lord. Follow Me! Walk as you’ve seen me walk!
I’ve set the standard by example, now emulate it as you live out your lives on earth. Don’t alter it, duplicate it! His walk led Jesus to a cross, as does ours. How magnificent an entrustment to be called, appointed and anointed to reflect His nail scared hands and feet to our world!
The ‘’walk of the second cross” that Jesus calls each of us to, involves a non-optional cross of our own. That’s not a very comfortable “free world” concept for us to ingest therefore we can find ourselves taking the liberty to alter it then live within the illusion of a “new gospel”.
Illusions are dangerous things folks. Wasn’t it the rich young ruler who said to Jesus; What must I do. More clearly said: What is the least I have to do to get in on the action.
The bible states he left his illusion of negotiation sad! Once expelled, illusions will do that to a person. You see he came to Jesus to negotiate his terms into the deal. What the rich young man misunderstood was simply this. There is no such thing as negotiating with Jesus. “Pick Up Your Cross And Follow Me” are the terms!
The crowds that followed Jesus found Him to be quite the ‘’handy guy” to know if you were hungry, sick, blind, crippled, or suffering from the death sentence of leprosy. That is until they were presented with His non-negotiable, reality soaked, contingent to following Him.
It was a declaration so shocking to the folks that it silenced and in fact stunned the “it’s about me” followers of our Lord. They heard about a cross they would be asked to carry as part and parcel of following Him. A cross? Hey I’m here to be blessed! No thanks and they left.
Judging from the time frame spoken of, it would seem the “prosperity gospel” isn’t new with its utter avoidance of ‘’our cross” talk!
No follower is greater than the One he or she is following. Jesus had a cross and we do as well. You can sprinkle as many sugary treats on that truth as you wish but you can’t change it and nor could the multitudes. They left and when doing so, Jesus turned to His disciples and asked: “Will you be leaving too”?
Thank you Peter for one of your finest moments as he steps up and answers the question with one of his own: John 6 – 68: Simon Peter answered Him, “To whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life”.
The singular purpose of our walk with Jesus is to become more like Him not better versions of ourselves. For that sacred privilege to actually transpire there must be two crosses. If it weren’t so Jesus wouldn’t have been so emphatically clear regarding its importance. He said it over two thousand years ago and hasn’t changed His mind.
Now, this all sounds painfully sobering as it must have been to the multitudes and could be equally confusing to us as it was to them if not explained. So, here’s the good news that they missed by leaving the scene too quickly.
In picking up your cross you get to experience the reality of heaven on earth as you walk as Jesus walked! The Apostle Paul said: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I that lives but Christ that lives within me”. The second cross! He wasn’t regretting he was celebrating the value of his choice! Thus interpreted by Paul as true prosperity!!
I do believe in the ‘‘prosperity gospel”. The same one as Paul believed in!
Nothing Has Changed
So here we are in the year 2017, over two thousand years after the fact and the message is still the message. In spite of multiple attempts over the years to alter it, nothing has truly changed.
There is no such thing as multiple versions of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They exist only in our imaginations but have no residency nor legitimacy in heaven.
It’s a perfect gospel that doesn’t need sugary treats to make it palatable to the masses. It’s a beautiful gospel that was purchased on a cross by our wonderful Savior, who on that day was anything but beautiful, so that one day we could be inhabited by His beauty.
I ask, what sizzle could possibly be added to that truth to make it more appealing?
We are immeasurably loved by God and asked to love Him back voluntarily, reciprocally and appropriately in the light of His loving us first by grace.
We are still asked to pick up our cross and follow Him with the promise of “abundant spiritual life” in exchange for our earthly mundane existence.
Death to self is still the precursor to resurrection life in Christ. Short cuts have not been added. The road is still narrow. As it was in the early church “prosperity” is still a matter of the soul not of the wallet and the church is still called to be a 24 – 7 spiritual dynamic of extreme and radical reality. Folks, from heaven’s perspective, nothing’s changed!
It’s A Serious Journey
There are privileges we enjoy that our early church forefathers weren’t privy to. If we could go back in time and fellowship with the Paul’s, Peter’s and John’s, we would never hear this; “The bible says”. They didn’t have one!
As an obvious extension to that truth, there wouldn’t have been bible colleges, no in depth commentaries, no DVD and CD sets on this and that and no comfy churches to attend with perfect climate control and programs galore to meet our every possible need.
No Christian schools, camps or retreats and no luxurious all-inclusive cruises to the “holy land”. You see our ancestors were already there and what was going on wasn’t all that blissful.
They were utterly void of everything that we have today in abundance, including freedom! They were hunted down like dogs with jail cells awaiting their probable capture. Some skipped a long drawn out torturous imprisonment by being executed for the dastardly crime of loving Jesus!
Amazingly, they didn’t need to be constantly coaxed to take their walk with Jesus seriously. They loved Him and were prepared to pay whatever the ensuing cost would be for doing so. There initial decision to follow Jesus was one of discipleship not the joining of an alternative religious group. They were being offered nothing apart from a real walk with a real God! To them that was seen as more than enough!
While being imperfect in themselves, their walk with and love for Jesus was perfectly real! A reality that drove them to the extremes of radicalism in the midst of extreme persecution.
While having none of our modern day luxuries at their disposal, they changed their entire world with what they did have; A resurrected Jesus, Who by His Spirit, exploded in and through their lives with obvious and undeniable reality!
By now it should be obvious that this book wasn’t written as a ‘’feel good” commentary. But for all its readers be sure of this: It is written and read by me and to me first.
I have some serious questions regarding my walk with God. Ones that can’t be medicated away with more memorized, well-rehearsed, parroted clichés or constant reminders of how “special” I am.
Hopefully having serious introspective questions regarding myself suggests I haven’t fallen into the trap of complacency? Believing and walking in your belief are two very different mindsets.
I often wonder if my walk with Jesus even remotely resembles what I read in the book of Acts and if not, is that OK with me?
Can religious behavior such as church attendance, be mis-interpreted by me as a reasonable facsimile to reality?
Do I not have the same “resurrected Jesus” living in and through me as was the case with those early followers of my Lord?
Could it be possible that I have developed a mis-guided comfort level with drinking from the waters of the “Free World” version of the gospel that suggests it’s all about me? While being a myth, I’m sure it must be tasty for a while with all its never ending dessert platters.
As is always the case, my concerns bring me back full circle to Jesus and my responsibilities to Him. It was only He who hung on a cross for me and to Him I owe my complete devotion. He told me as His sheep I would hear His voice. A voice that reminds me daily: “Pick Up Your Cross Bill And Follow Me’’!
My Shepherd would further declare that He set the standard for what following Him should look and sound like. Jesus would also caution; If I can’t reconcile what I am hearing, with the life that He lived, I might want to ask some serious questions as to its validity. There are two crosses! To ignore them doesn’t remove them!
Folks, a walk with Jesus is a very serious journey with a very serious Savior. For the most part our past forefathers died to participate in the privilege of the walk. That’s serious and should make perfectly clear there’s nothing frivolous, fashionable or popular involved. It’s a laying down of my life for the One who laid down His life for me. Plain and simple but admittedly, not easy. But why would I think it should be easy? Things of great value are seldom if ever easily procured.
My walk with God is by design, pre-ordained to be as serious as this; I the created, walking by grace with my Creator, with “my terms” uninvited to the walk! It seems, the our cross dynamic just won’t go away!
That being true, Jesus asks me what He asked those from back in the day: “Knowing the cost and having counted it: Bill, will you be leaving or staying”?
I like Peter must look into my Lord’s beautiful eyes and say; Jesus, where would I go? I was nothing and will return to nothing without You!
I wonder at times, if I am truly aware of how emphatically nothing I would be without Him.
As previously mentioned, not a “feel good’’ book and to be honest, a tricky one for me to write. I wish none of its content applied to me but it does. I have discovered over the years that there are times in life serious reality doesn’t make me feel good just much better informed so that I can better respond.
Over two thousand years ago, violence beyond my comprehension was poured out and blood was shed for me on a hill called Mount Calvary. I can see the life draining out of my Savior as the moments passed. I can “appreciate” what I see with all my heart but I cannot “feel good” about it. You see, I was the reason that He was hanging on that cross. That’s a reality that is massively personal and deadly serious to me!
Most of us live in the “Free World” therefore most of us need to be careful, we aren’t drinking cool-aid and calling it champagne or mistaking sizzle for steak!
I don’t personally have the luxury of forgetting the “dual cross” reality, in my walk with Jesus. You see, it’s my only legitimate way of saying thank you and I must say thank you.
As I pick up my cross and follow Him, a peace that passes understanding descends on my soul and I find myself at rest having surrendered my terms for His. I’m reminded that Jesus shed His will for His Father’s on my behalf. I’m also reminded that Jesus said to pick up my cross daily, reflective of His cross that forgives me daily. How perfectly fair and fitting.
So perhaps “today” I wrote “The Second Cross” as a reminder for me firstly, and to whom it may concern, secondly. For those whom it may concern, I pray it ministers to your heart as it has mine.