Why Must We Carry a Cross?

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Today’s slice of the Bread of Life, the Word of God, comes from The Transfiguration, or what we might today call The Transformation of Christ; Mark 9:2-9:

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain. No one else was there. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance changed, and his clothing became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly process could ever make it. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. “Teacher, this is wonderful!” Peter exclaimed. “We will make three shrines – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He didn’t really know what to say, for they were all terribly afraid. Then a cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly they looked around, and Moses and Elijah were gone, and only Jesus was with them. As they descended the mountainside, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until he, the Son of Man, had risen from the dead.

When comedian Yakov Smirnoff first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says,

“On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, What a country!”

Smirnoff is joking but we make these assumptions about Christian Transformation; that people change instantly at salvation; some quick fix to sin. According to this belief, when someone gives his or her life to Christ, there is an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character. We go to church as if we are going to the grocery store: powdered Christian. Just add water and disciples are born, not made.

There is no such powder, and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. They are slowly raised through many trials, suffering, and temptations. A study has found that only 11% of churchgoing teenagers have a well-developed faith, rising to only 32% for churchgoing adults. Why? Because true life-change only begins at salvation, takes more than just time, is about training, trying, suffering, and even dying. That is, dying to self…

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