Wrestling With the Bible: What’s My Cross?

Photo 2011 BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

What does it mean to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus? What does it mean to imitate Abram who said yes when God Almighty asked him to leave home and family and “walk before me, and be blameless”?

Are we supposed to quit our jobs and join the Peace Corps? Take monastic vows? Give all our money to Save the Children? Turn our guest rooms into homeless shelters?

That’s the feeling I get from Jesus’ stern words to his disciples and the crowd, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

When I was in my twenties, I dropped out.

I quit a promising magazine job in New York and moved to San Francisco, where I acquired a pair of handmade leather sandals and let my hair grow down past my armpits.

I joined the Women’s Liberation Movement, marched against the Vietnam War, and lived frugally on a few hundred dollars a month, which I earned by freelancing to a local newspaper. I rejected mainstream American society – Rome – and all its perks. I took to the moral high ground.

But was that taking up my cross and following Jesus?

Or is following Jesus much harder than that? Is the way of the cross in the small, difficult, daily things? Is it apologizing when I’m shamefully in the wrong? Is it getting on a plane and flying to Phoenix to risk telling my cranky 97-year-old aunt that I love her? Is it something as simple as summoning the wherewithal to thank my husband for buying the frozen blueberries for my morning oatmeal?

How do we know the divine things when we see them?

LECTIONARY, Second Sunday in Lent:

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:22-30
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.’”  — Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

“He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?’”   – Mark 8:36-37


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© 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Barbara Falconer Newhall. and www.GodsBigBlog.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog's author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Barbara Falconer Newhall and www.GodBigBlog.com with appropriate and specifc direction to the original content. Bible texts are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA. The Psalms are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. Material originally published and copyrighted by the Oakland Tribune is posted here by permission. WordPress theme adapted from Thematic Theme Framework