Cross of Christ
Today there is a question posited to us. Choose life or choose death. It seems so simple, it seems almost like a no brainer. However, over and over again death seems to be chosen. Moses posits to the people that to choose life is to follow the commands of God, to choose death is to follow the way of the idols and adore other gods. Seems easy enough, after all today what other gods are there really? We proclaim not to live in a pagan country, we don’t have a vast majority of people worshiping a multitude of gods next to us like the Israelites would when they enter Cana. But maybe that is not so clear. We had a record number of people watch the Super Bowl this year, many worshiping the god of sports. We worship at the idol of success in business, or the idol of money. We throw down our lives before the god of beauty. We worship the idol of narcissism and in the USA the god of individualism. We believe there is a disconnect between the God who created the world and science that seeks to understand that world, and we put them juxtapose to each other. How many gods do we worship.
So why do we chose death? Why do we chose to worship the idols? I would pose the thought that many of us start doing it for what we believe are the right reasons. We focus on beauty because of the beauty of God that we seek, but we turn it inward and seek our own beauty above all else. Or we seek to be healthy and turn fitness and exercise into the ultimate good even above God. We value to strength and challenge of sport, until it becomes the only thing we seek. Success is often sought in the name of happiness, and we get sucked in too far before we realize that that very success is draining our lives of meaning and happiness. The answer is we are all craving something greater something better something more beautiful; yet, in our own twisted way we distort what is truly greater, what is truly better, what is truly more beautiful and twist it back all too often toward ourselves.
What is the solution then? Jesus gives us the solution to choosing life, and breaking free of idols. “For whoever wishes to save his life must lose it, for whoever loses his life for my sake will gain it.” We must put aside all idols, we must rid ourselves of all selfish pride, we must no longer be a man/woman of our own choosing but return to being a child of God. Jesus said we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. We don’t yet know what that cross will entail, we don’t know where it is that Christ will lead us. Yet, we must be willing to follow him.
Following Jesus is not always puppies and roses. The path may often be wrought with thorns and danger. Yet, with Jesus guiding us we can make it safely through. When we struggle in this life we must turn to Jesus, and ask Him to be our guide. The commands of God are not always easy in this life, the commands of love of God, love of neighbor, forgiveness, chastity, prudence, hope. Virtue is not easy, and even harder when we have vice in our lives. When we struggle with a spouse, or friend, or sibling, or parent, we must learn to forgive first. We must place Jesus before us,giving up our own pride and selfishness. When we struggle to stay true to our vows, we must put sacrifice before pleasure, turning away from our own selfish desires to the cross of commitment. When there are desires that are not of God we must forgo that path to follow the way of the Cross. Let us not be fooled, even those who feel they are living the “perfect Christian way” most likely have struggles and ways that must be denied in order to follow Christ.
What is it in your life that is your path? What is it in your life that prevents you from picking up the cross? What keeps you from the commands and demands of the Gospel? Root them out this Lent, turn them over to the Lord, give them up, fill that space with Cross of Christ and choose life.