Jesus said that those who would be his disciples—those who would be shaped by his life—would develop a way of cross carrying. When I was praying through the labyrinth (See previous entries here), I came to the center which was marked by a cross. At that point, I stopped and just gazed at the cross formed by rocks lying on the ground. Here is where a great exchange occurred in my encounter with God. All the pain, disappointment, failure, etc. that had arisen within my soul as I prayed through the first half of the labyrinth I fell off me. It was like I had a new found freedom to let go of tons of stuff that had been weighing me down.
In exchange, I was given more than "new life" or "abundant life" which is often the focus of conversations about the exchange that occurs at the cross. I was given a cross of my own to bear, one of sharing in the life of Jesus, for the sake of the world. My imagination about my calling took on another level of meaning as I stood at the cross. I'm not called to make the church bigger and better—although that might be a legitimate result. I'm not called to make my ministry bigger and better. I'm called to take up my cross, the specific one which Jesus has given to me so that I can contribute to a "for the sake of the world" kind of life.
Of course, most of us state that we follow Jesus and minister for the sake of the world. But I've had too many conversations with other ministers where our words gave away our true motivations. We were ministering for things like:
- For the sake of growing "my" church
- For the sake of the advancement of my ministry
- For the sake of people's praise
- For the sake of "getting our theology right"
- For the sake of being "missional"
- For the sake of ________________
For the next entry in this series, click here.