Truly, truly I told me to you, unless a speck of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
— John 12:24
We are living in trying times. The life seems to have lost its way, and so many of us feel powerless to correct its track. We begin each day wondering what happened to the world we formerly knew, and some are fearful of the future. But it’s very possible that Our Lord has allowed this opportunity in history as a remembrance for us that this world is passing away( 1 John 2:17 ). Perhaps now is a perfect time to step back from information things and remember that there is something more for which we were obliged.
As Christians, our allegiance is not to this world, but to God alone, through His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So what should be used do? Perhaps we should take this time to return to our seeds, examining what it means to be a Christian in the world today.
The Christian Mission
What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to follow Christ? Two thousand years ago, it made a complete change of one’s heart, knowledge, and soul. It often intended a willingness to endure torture and fatality. It symbolized knowing the promise of an eternal life that was infinitely more valuable than the world in which we live. That predict supported Christians with a purpose that transcended the pleases of this life.
For early Christians, the Cross was part of their identity, and they didn’t shy away from it. Rather, they intensely pursued their goal, whatever the cost.
What was that mission? It was to creating the Gospel to all the men, woman and child, opening mettles to God’s grace, that He might glean every spirit to Himself. Christians recognized that this mission involved a life of sacrifice; a denial of “self.” It denote cooperating with the Master Gardener as He pruned and modelled them, ridding their hearts and souls of all that might obscure Him from idea. For they knew that in order to accomplish their mission, they must be able to say with St. Paul, “I have been executed with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”( Gal. 2:20 ).
Today, this mission remains the same. Sadly, there is little evidence in the world of the Christianity of old. Our secular culture celebrates the temporal over the spiritual, and many of us have been persuasion by the daily demands and attractions of the here and now. As a ensue, many have strayed from the Christianity of earlier periods. In fact, in recent generations, Christianity has even developed a stature in the West for soft sentimentalism. Christ has been reduced to tender emotion and unconditional affection, wrapped up in a nonjudgmental rug of relativism. This is what Archbishop Fulton Sheen referred to as Christ without His Cross.
Many Christians no longer strive to engage in lives of prayer and relinquish in order to carry out the Great Commission — and most aren’t even aware of what has been lost. Rather than seeking to reunite Christ with His Cross, they have destroyed the Cross altogether and used the scraps to build a sort of progressive humanitarian religion based on materialism and self-entitlement.
This development should make grave concern for those of us who truly desire to follow Christ, for how can one follow in His steps if the Way has been obliterated by generations of deformations and misrepresentations?
This article is from Vicki Burbach’s latest work, The Lost Art of Sacrifice: A Spiritual Guide for Denying Yourself, Embracing the Cross, and Finding Joy.
Christ Calls to Us
It seems the only solution to this problem is to return to Christ’s words and find out what He actually said to His would-be adherents. We owe it to ourselves and to Him to consider His call as He induced it, unblemished by the mores of different cultures 😛 TAGEND
If any serviceman would come after me, give him disavow himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake knows where to find it. For what will it revenue a soldier, if he gains around the world and forfeits “peoples lives”?( Matt. 16:24 -26)
The question is, how do we go about doing this? What does denying myself look like? How exactly must I carry my cross?
Not merely are we to repudiate ourselves and take up our crossings, but we are to follow Christ in the process. And although we might be persuasion to assume we are following Him through the pearly gates to an everlasting Paradise with the Father, many of us have somehow been indoctrinated to neglect a major stop along the way.
Before He leads us to Paradise, Christ leads us to Calvary.
Like Christ, we are called to carry the cross and to be executed. Of trend, we can ask the Simons in our lives to help us procreate our route along the footpath, and we are to be able to certainly help them as well. But at the end of our fated journeying, whether that passage is a moment of consideration for someone else or a lifetime of sorenes and agony, each of us will be asked to climb right up there alongside Christ and sacrifice our very lives. By this I don’t consequently mean that we are called to be martyrs, offering our blood as a testament of our faithfulnes to Christ — although, for some of us, that see may come — but rather that we furnish ourselves as “bloodless” martyrs, ready to release our connects, our desires, our penchants, our quirks, our most wills, in homage to the will of God. Essentially, we are called to die to ourselves.
And if we don’t? Say we decide to climb down from the hill of Calvary and save “peoples lives” — that is, hold on to our attachments; prioritize our demands, desires, and predilections; and leant ourselves firstly? Well, according to Christ, in saving my working life, I will surely completely lost. But — and here’s the clincher — if I climb up on that cross, enduring to the end, all in effort to lose my life for Christ’s sake; if I unite my will to the will of God, disclaiming myself by offering myself; in that case, I am bound to find my life — and no doubt I will have it abundantly( John 10:10 ).
There is no greater paradox in all the world than the paradox of the Cross.
Yes, sacrifice is hard.
But our people were induced for relinquish. And deep down in the farther regions of our centers, in places that we prevent disguised even from ourselves, we know that this is true.
Sadly, contemporaries of convenience and excess and anticipations have weakened our wills. In fact, there are many who argue for the need to scrap the concept of willpower wholly. We have grown soft. We have lost our way in a life of materialism and self-determination. We have slipped from the cross, even affirming Christ, so as to avoid that call that speaks immediately to the breadths of our hearts.
So how can we find our route back to the cross? How can we reconnect to the root of our most spirits? How can we find that part of us that utterly knows we were offset for love? For sacrifice? We may be moved by the contributions made to the world by our fellow human beings, and inspired by all the saints who’ve gone before us; but how can we bring ourselves to participate in the type of life for which we were moved? How can we find the rapture that is waiting for us?
Whatever your experience with the cross, whether you struggle with a pain and incapacitating illness or with observe charm in the little interruptions in soul, it is my prayer that you are able to recapture the lost art of sacrifice.
Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a section in Vicki Burbach’s latest bible, The Lost Art of Sacrifice: A Spiritual Guide for Denying Yourself, Embracing the Cross, and Finding Joy.
It is available through your favorite bookseller or online through Sophia Institute Press.
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