Leave It at the Cross

Religion  266

“You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross.” – MercyMe, Dear Younger Me

This line strikes home for me every time I hear it. Because I look back at things that I know I shouldn’t have carried beyond the cross and see the pain it brought and the problems it caused.

I think to some extent all of us have things that we try to carry beyond the cross.

We talk about turning things over to Jesus. We nod confidently and agree there is nothing that He can’t carry for us.

But still there are things we try to carry ourselves.  We plant our feet firmly, heave it up on our shoulders, and trudge forward, one laborious step at a time.

Maybe it’s because we feel like it’s not something that’s worthy of turning over to God – it’s too trivial to bother Him with.

Or maybe it’s too ugly and we don’t want to expose it to our relationship with Him – like somehow revealing the thing (which He already knows about) will somehow taint His impression of us.

Or maybe someone has convinced us that God’s grace doesn’t quite cover that.

But Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

He didn’t say “all who labor and are heavy laden with big things.” Or “all who labor and are heavy laden unless your burden crosses this line.” He said “all.”

So no matter the size, shape, appearance, or form of your burden, bring it to Him. You were never meant to carry it beyond the cross.

Alcoholism? Bring it. Pornography? Bring it. Unwanted homosexual desires? Bring it. Bad temper? Bring it. Guilt from a painful past? Bring it. Hurt caused by someone else? Bring it. Drug problems, gambling addictions, trust issues, gossip, hate, lying, cheating, jealousy, judgmentalism – whatever form your flaw or your struggle takes…bring it to His cross.

And leave it there. Don’t carry it one step further.

When we try to carry it ourselves, bigger problems result. Struggles become addictions. Secrets become complex networks of deceit. Angry outbursts become abusive behavior. One more compulsive bet becomes financial ruin.

The scenarios are exhaustive (and exhausting!).

Trust me, carrying whatever it is ourselves and trying to keep it stuffed inside only leads to more (and deeper) hurt. I know. I’ve been there.

So make the commitment now to leave everything at the foot of the cross. Everything…and live free!

p.s. – since I mentioned it, take a listen to this song if you have time. It’s worth it.

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“…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” – Hebrews 10:25

Unfortunately, one of the things today’s church excels at is causing pain. As someone who has experienced wounding from both sides, I truly believe it’s not intentional in most cases. It’s usually a matter of trying to figure out where to draw the line between grace and truth. And there’s not a person in the church who hasn’t at one time or another drawn that line a little off-center. I look back at some of the judgment calls I have made as a Christian toward others and I cringe at the thought of it. I know many others would say the same. Some don’t cringe at all, but convince themselves and others that they made the right judgment – and, on some occasions, they did. Either way, the reality is someone walks away hurt.

It’s a tragedy that the body of Christ can be so disenfranchising toward the same people that God loves so dearly.

But don’t give up on God just because His people have made mistakes. Whether it was an honest mistake or a flagrant disregard, I guarantee you that God never intended for you to be condemned, humiliated or ignored. That’s not the way He operates.

You see, the church’s main problem is that it’s full of people. And as in any other setting, when you get people together things can go wrong. Different viewpoints, competing priorities, varied backgrounds and experience, mixed in with a touch of selfishness, and you have a recipe for hurt.

Can the people in the church be a bunch of hypocrites? Absolutely.

But wait, let me ask another question:

Can the people outside of the church be a bunch of hypocrites? Absolutely.

People are no different whatever their purpose or surroundings. The bar is set a little higher for people gathered in Jesus’ name, as it should be. But let’s lose the illusion that the church has a lock on hypocritical attitudes. Hypocrisy is a human flaw, not exclusively a Christian one. In fact, often the very people that judge the church for being a bunch of hypocrites are being quite hypocritical themselves.

The church indeed has faults. And yes it should be held to a higher standard. But it shouldn’t be held to an impossible standard. Life is about decisions, and sometimes we’ll display poor judgment, and people will be wounded.

When we’re on the receiving end of the wounding, we should try to understand – though moving on still may be the prudent choice. Trying to be understanding doesn’t mean exposing yourself to more hurt. Sometimes you forgive, and then you dust off your feet and move on.

When we’re on the business end of the wounding, we should seek reconciliation with the one we hurt. Often the best balm of healing is the apology and caring embrace of the one who did the wounding.

But through it all, remember God still loves every one of us more than we can ever know. And He still desires for His people to come together for encouragement and for worship and for prayer and for learning. The benefits far outweigh the risks.

So be part of a local church. It may take a few visits and false starts to find the right one, but it’s out there. Wherever you are, wherever you’ve been, don’t abandon the church. Allow God to embrace you through it.