What a joy it was to watch Melissa Lawson win the Nashville Stars competition last night . Not only is she a great singer, she is also the mother of five boys! Not your stereotypical country music phenomenon.
Naturally, the competition came down to the final two. As with most competition shows, the announcements for winners or losers can take minutes – I suppose to build suspense – but more likely to fill the time slot. Nevertheless, as the two competitors stood there waiting for the announcement, you could almost read the dread on Melissa’s face. She had worked so hard and done such a fantastic job, the judges and the audience seem drawn to Gabe, a Texan of Hispanic descent, who was equally as strong in the competition.
Even though both competitors where, to one degree or another, dreading the final announcement, it was a joy to hear “Melissa Lawson” spoken by the host. All the pain, sacrifice, commitment, and hard work had paid off for this mother of five. She was on her way to a brand new life she could have only imagined before.
Most of us will never find ourselves in that type of situation. However, when I was reading the Gospel of Luke this morning, it dawned on me how dreadful some of Jesus’ words must have been to his followers.
Ponder this….you are following the Master Teacher, the one whom Peter has just proclaimed as the “Christ of God” – the Messiah. You have been in his company of the committed for weeks, perhaps months. Then, once that recognition becomes verbalized, your Messiah says:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (9:23)
The cross – not just a foretelling of what lies ahead for the Christ – but an all too familiar sign of humiliation, degradation, and death for those who heard his words.
The group of disciples following Jesus were not unfamiliar with crosses. Often times they had probably seen them littering the Roman roads displaying, as it were, the bodies of criminals and enemies of the state. The torture coming before one was compelled to carry their own cross to their final demise was horrendous. Thus, the image that came to one’s mind that day had to be inconceivable for us to even attempt to identify with.
We often quote that verse as though it were some type of mantra and evidence of our level of commitment to Christ. Then we move on to our daily routines. But when the followers of Christ heard those words that day – it was a dreadful announcement. It was a line drawn in the sand. A decision that had to be faced. Move on or move out.
I often lose sight of what it means to take up my cross daily and follow the Christ. Perhaps I should listen carefully and realize this is no game I have decided to enter. This is life – life in terms of what it means to be a follower of Christ.