I spent a week at a retreat centre and at the beginning the organizers were assigning chores. Each of the participants was asked to volunteer for one of the tasks. As each chore was read out I evaluated whether or not I should raise my hand. Other people seemed eager to grab a chore, while I was happy to wait for the one that was easiest. Eventually, it dawned on me that the chores were being presented from easiest to hardest. I needed to volunteer quickly before I ended up with the worst of them all. I ended up washing the shower stalls all week, a chore I disliked. The person who got vacuuming wouldn’t trade with me. I find vacuuming easy, my Dad used to say I had a head for it.
If I ever return to that retreat centre, and some day I’d like to, I will know to volunteer early. However, I won’t live my life that way. I always assess the costs and promises of big decisions. Even when it comes to taking up my cross, I am not all that eager.
There are those who now doubt my commitment to Jesus Christ because I’m not all that certain I want to take up a cross. If it means being crucified I am certain that I would rather clean shower stalls. But scripture also tells us that Jesus Christ is our savior and no one else needs to be crucified. What Jesus did he did for everyone, so that no one would have to be crucified. We all have burdens to endure in life and sometimes we think of taking up our cross as simply enduring whatever life throws our way. Well, my burdens (so far) can hardly be compared to crucifixion.
To take one’s cross has more to do with who we associate ourselves with than the burdens we endure. We are not to be ashamed of the cross of Christ but to hold it up, and all that it means for the world, and to live our lives in the knowledge of the love and mercy of God.