The Way of the Cross

Written on 11/17/2021
Christian Dunn

Verse: Galatians 6:11-18

11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! 12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God. 17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Dead people don't care about their reputation. Have you ever noticed that? They don't worry about how nice their clothes are, or how expensive their shoes are, or how big their house or their payheck is. They don't care how many followers they have, or even what you think about them. 

Paul (and Jesus) both use the image of bearing our own cross as a central idea for what it means to be a follower of Christ. Paul tells us in this passage that the "world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." The word "world" here is used much like the New Testament writers use the word "flesh." It's the desires, appetites, and temptations we pursue in a life without Jesus.

John describes them as the "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." (1 John 2:16). He tells us that if we "love" the world, then we can't love the Father. Having affection and devotion and allegiance to the way of the world (pleasure, status, money, stuff, comfort, etc) stands in direct opposition to having affection and devotion to Jesus.

And more than anything—more than our happiness or our comfort or anything—Jesus wants us to live in union with him. He doesn't want us to miss out on the chance to live a life with him. That's why he uses such extreme imagery: that of dying on a cross. Mark Clark, in his new book The Problem of Jesus, describes it this way:

When Jesus put the image of a cross in front of his disciples, he was saying, “This must be the shape of your life if you want to follow me. You’re already dead. The only way you’re  ever going to be able to get enough courage to sacrifice, to go over and above what you want to do, is to embrace your death. Death to your own desires, to your emotional wants and needs, and even, for some, your lives.”

The way of the cross isn't easy, but it is the way to life. As Jesus said, "whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it" (Matthew 16:25). Today, ask the Lord in what areas you need to die more fully to the world, so that you can become more fully alive to Jesus.

I pray that you would help me to die to the way of the world and to come alive to your way in my life.