One of the most troubling passages, to me, is where Christ tells us that we must "pick up our cross" and follow Him. Our mind goes directly to scenes from Passion of the Christ or Ben Hur where we see Jesus shouldering his instrument of torture and death up the road to Skull Hill. We are "observers" of Jesus carrying the cross. Culturally, this phrase means nothing to us. We don't use crosses anymore for anything but jewelry and to hang on the wall....it has become a symbol of our faith. Rarely do you find a cross made of wood....they are mostly more beautiful now. Our family has a collection of crosses from around the world...trips we've taken to do short term missions. They are of varying metals and jewels, glass or beads. One of our walls is littered with beautiful crosses and we always receive comments from visitors about that wall.
If I did carry a cross daily, hourly....I think I would probably get splinters in my hands. The signs not of suffering, but of sacrifice/serving/love/fruit. The more my cross was dragged around, the more splinters would be evident in my hands/life. I try to carry the cross, but honestly, I put it down when it gets heavy. I need a break to pull the splinters out, because splinters HURT...instead of learning to live with splinters, I try to remove them.
What does it look like to have splinters in your hands, your work, your life? This will be a question answered differently by different people. How different the splinters look, or who has more or less is not really the point....the point is do we have any splinters or not? If not, are we looking for ways to carry our cross? Jesus said if we don't pick up our cross, we are "not worthy of being my disciple" (Luke 14). Pretty black and white to me...
This year I hope to get rid of my tweazers....learn to appreciate the feeling of a splinter and look for places to carry a cross.....places to serve, make a difference, help a life practically, share the gospel thru walk and talk.
I think a good piece of jewelry, instead of a gold cross, would be a wooden splinter. It would probably sell really well also! The problem is that we, people, would find a way to make it more ornate, more beautiful...
addendum......here are some stories of splinters the likes no American ever really feels:
(btw, when we adopted our daughter from China, we stayed in a hotel across the street from the Guangzhou church in the list that was locked up)