“Will you be able to bear the offense that comes with the cross?”
Some of the things my sister and I share is our love for Japan and our love for the gospel. Japan, just having 1% Christian population, became a shared burden for us. We deeply longed to be minister in Japan–be it as a missionary, a teacher or a nurse, we know in our heart of hearts we long to see God move in Japan and to know the unconditional love of Jesus.
My sister was compelled to invite her Japanese friends to the Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames production she and I are in. With God’s grace, even though she invited them last minute and had trouble in finding rides, God made the way to make it all possible. She was so excited when she told me they we’re going. All ten of them watched the play on the final night. I remember she telling me she was quite worried if they felt uncomfortable, awkward and lost during the whole production being shown and introduced to something that is not only foreign but countercultural.
The next morning, she came to me, tears in her eyes telling me how they started to avoid her.
Everything she feared just came to pass.
(It is something I truly fear too)
My heart ached for her as she questioned herself and God; “Is it even possible to reach the Japanese people?”
“Imagine how the pastors in Japan feel? No wonder they’re frustrated if the people constantly reject and refuse to stand out as Christians.” She said with in a broken voice, “Imagine how God feels, with people rejecting his free gift to them. If it’s like this, I don’t want it anymore. It’s like being broken hearted every time.”
Then she mentioned along these lines: “The gospel is offensive, and the cross is offensive. Who can bear it?”
It confronts our humanity, our sinfulness, our finiteness and our dependability in God who we don’t see. It gives us an ultimatum; to accept Jesus Christ or to reject Him, and there is no other way to eternal life but through Him and only Him. Rejecting Him means damning our soul to hell, no matter how good or bad we think we lived. For our good works are filthy rags in the glory and righteousness of God.
That made me think.
Who can bear the weight of the cross? The death to all self will, the death to all what people think and say, risking offending the people who you would you want so badly to know the love of Christ, risking the fact that the very same people could shun and reject you despite your heart’s cry.
It’s too much, it’s too heavy.
No wonder people shun away from ministry and evangelism.
As followers of Christ, we ought to be like Christ. And we are called to bear our cross, like he bore his.
Some Christians die for their faith, some will be persecuted, some will be rejected and some will be misunderstood…
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me,let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
…just as Christ was rejected, misunderstood and ultimately killed.
We evangelize because we are deeply in love with Him. We evangelize because he loves people, and we must overflow with that love even though it means rejection and misunderstanding. That ultimately despite what happens, we need to hold fast the hope that God is orchestrating something greater in the future, with the seeds of faith planted in the souls who heard but rejected you. Not all will come to a revelation with one encounter with God. It’ll take some time for some people. We are not called to change and save people, We are called to be proclaimers and let the Holy Spirit change hearts and give them the revelation of the love of God.
32“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
I stand behind this hope: that nothing else matters in the light of eternity. The only thing we could carry in eternity is the souls of those who we reached out to, and the only thing we can’t do in heaven is evangelize.
So let’s boldly take up our crosses, and become the light and the salt we are called to be.
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.