The cross has always been the symbol of the Christian faith. Everyone knows it symbolizes the death of Christ. In the historical record, it was the means by which the Romans executed their criminals. So what did Jesus mean when he told us to carry our cross? In the popular view today, it’s a metaphor for any form of discomfort, like having to put up with people we don’t like, or having a responsibility we really don’t want. But in the Bible, in its simplest and purest form, the cross means unjust suffering and death.
Growing in Christ
In the ancient world and even in many parts of the world today, farmers used animals to do the heavy work of plowing fields, carrying loads, and pulling carts. When two animals were used, they were joined together by a wooden yoke. Jesus used this most familiar farm implement to describe the relationship he has with those who trust him.
God established boundaries that define the world we live in and provide structure to our lives. They keep us living in the real world, not an imaginary world of our own making. God’s commands are ancient boundaries that keep us on safe paths and provide blessing in our lives. But those who cross them or ignore them do so at their own peril. God set spiritual and moral boundary stones as monuments that, even today we can get our bearings on to keep us on the right paths.
What is most important to you in life? What is the most important thing you can think of? Jesus Christ taught that loving God is the highest of all priorities, the greatest command in God’s law. According to the Bible, we were made to be connected to God in a love relationship. But what does it mean to love God? How can we love a Being we can’t see? Loving God means giving him ourselves—our heart, soul, mind, and strength—all that we are.
How do we become better people? How do we make a better society? Will the coming of a new year magically bring the changes we want in us and others we live with? No, nothing really changes with the changing of the calendar. If we are the same people, then there is no reason to think that society will change. We are still sinful and need God and his transforming power. But how can we change?
In many circles, everyone is a child of God. “We are all God’s children” is commonly heard. But what does the term “child of God” mean in the Bible? Christians know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but who are the “sons of God” that the Bible refers to? They are God’s adopted children.
In these troubling and confusing times, we need direction and guidance, especially in how we relate to others. There are countless voices trying to persuade us in different directions. Where can we find an authoritative voice that we can trust? We again turn to Jesus, the Son of God, whose teachings to love our neighbor and observe the Golden Rule stand out among all others. What do these mean and how do we apply them in our lives?