Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Show Me My Cross

CROSS AT DREAMSTIME

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”  It was true in the second century when Tertullian first penned those words, and it’s been the experience of saints somewhere on the planet in every age since.

In his profound spiritual reflection, Silence and Beauty,  Makoto Fujimura reconsiders the awe and the agony of the Christian community which took root in Japan in the 16th Century. The number of believers there soon reached 300,000, a feat so amazing that missionary Francis Xavier concluded Japan, of all nations in Asia, was “most suited for Christianity.”  When the backlash came, it was brutal, demonic, and devastating.

Fujimura, himself a believer, describes a monument to 26 Christian martyrs from that era of darkness that descended on the church: a few missionaries, some adult believers, and two boys, Ibaraki and Anthony, the older being 13 years old. This particular group of believers was force-marched 480 miles from their home to a hill in Nagasaki.  The ordeal began with their ears and noses being cut off, and it concluded with twenty-six crosses lined up and waiting at their destination.  The tormentors must have been certain this nightmarish ordeal would bring about a change of heart.  They had miscalculated.

As soon as they arrived, one of the battered lads stepped forward and called out, “Show me my cross.” The other boy followed, “And show me mine.”

In spite of our reverence for the cross, many of us in the West scarcely consider the power and the impact of suffering for righteousness.  In our age of convenience and consumer values, the idea of enduring affliction for a higher cause seems unnecessary at best and maybe even ungodly at worst. Why would I do that?  And yet a friend described for me just last night how she slept on the floor beside her husband’s sickbed night after night as he lay dying, just to be near him in his final hours. How commonly we skip meals when a family member is suffering.  Many of us understand bearing discomfort for loved ones, and yet for Jesus…?

The Book of Job can be a perplexing struggle, but our problem is not just the poetry.  The ancient hero’s dark night of the soul seems like utter folly to us.  We throw up our hands, asking why God’s people should suffer bad things; finding no answer.  In fact, that’s not the question God addresses in this familiar story.  Job could never have discerned that his misery had resulted from a conversation in Heaven. Neither can you or I detect spiritual forces and purposes that turn the wheels of heaven just out of sight.

Job’s story asks a more compelling question: Do we really love God, or do we simply use him for His blessings?  The old man clung to God even as his earthly assets went down the drain.  Later in the New Testament, Paul was convinced he could know Christ better by  bonding with him through his own afflictions.  “I want to know Him..!” (Philippians 3:10)

Sometimes I wonder if we’ve lost sight of Heaven.  It’s easy to become addicted to the comforts of here and now; offended by anything less that The American Dream.  Then I recall the promise of Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  The most splendid experience in that kingdom will be his presence.

Scripture teaches the saints to pray for gold refined by fire.  Many of us might find it helpful to take a look at Silence and Beauty; or just read the Book of Job again, more slowly this time.

Lift up the Cross!

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Comments on: "Show Me My Cross" (6)

  1. TomStanton Sr. said:

    How can we bring this message to the ones who should be hearing it. Maybe talk to the Soccer, Football and Basketball Coaches to reexamine their priorities and stop teaching our young athletes that is ok to miss their Sunday services. Sports are not that important.

  2. Good question, Tom. One answer is that the schools and community organizations will stop scheduling sporting events on Sunday mornings when our godly dads and moms insist their athletic sons and daughters will not be available for games and practices on during worship times. The secular leaders only have control when the godly parents give it up. I’m sure there are other good ideas out there as well. Thanks for asking.

  3. with all due respect I have been told to “Go, live your life in peace, get married, earn money, raise children, enjoy life, I will use you when you get old”
    Those were the words Jesus spoke to me when I was 24 years old. I had spent the last 6 years embedded in a non denominal church called Church of Bible Understanding COBU.
    Long story short a Christian communal. All of the above has occurred and continues to occur.

    Jesus said our prayer should include “and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”
    The story of Job is about this very subject. Job however was lead directly into temptation and suffer patiently ( although his friends tormented him and he reacted as he should have) For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God’s approval.
    Jesus rarely says WHY He came but in one place it is written “I came that you may have life, and have it abundantly. God does not wish for anyone to suffer but it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong.
    Suffering is not a litmus test. There are religions in which suffering is a force and without it you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
    I’m sure you see the ridiculousness of that.
    There is nothing more desirable to God than for his children to live in peace and prosperity, to be kind to the poor and to associate with the lowly.
    To live a long and joyous life. Being thankful.
    Now for those who suffer unjustly and are persecuted we must do our best to help and know that those who suffer thus for Christ sake have the better reward.

    • Thanks, Rick. No doubt, raising a family and living in peace is obviously a blessing from the Lord. Scripture also teaches, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,” 1 Peter 3:14. I don’t think God commands us to go searching for trouble, but he is clear that we shouldn’t run from it when it arrives. Peace, bro.

      • interesting that you should say that. I fully agree of course, think of this…”And when he came to the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me;
        There it is again, that Prayer: Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”
        What does the scripture say? Temptation is sure to come, and God provides the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Really? not so much in Jesus case.

        So in all things good and bad we choose “never the less” “Father, glorify thy name”
        This is for the maturing of the saints it is the Lord’s discipline.

  4. I meant to add, so if one is a businessman, a farmer, a martyr we all receive our discipline, from the Lord but the greatest among us are those whose blood is shed in His name.

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