TAKING AWAY THE CROSS
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
A western co-worker was visiting the Chinese city of Dandong which borders North Korea. He shares his challenging experience at a local house church meeting:
It was the first time I had ever been called “Satan!” But no one could fault the careful exegesis as this fiery Korean preacher bellowed to the 200-member house church.
“The third temptation of Jesus,” he declared, “was when the devil offered him the kingdom without the cross. The devil was basically saying, ‘Don’t go off and make all those sacrifices, touch all those lepers, spend nights in agony praying, and end up being tortured by soldiers and dying a horrible death. Just take it all now…from my hand!’” He went on, “The church often has the same temptation. The devil offers us power without suffering. And…I’ve got to say this even though our western friend is here…this is a temptation one part of the church tempts another part of the church with. We have to call that part of the church ‘Satan,’ just as Jesus had to call Peter ‘Satan’ when he made the same suggestion later in his ministry.”
Good rip-roaring stuff, and thoroughly biblical. But I was intrigued as to why this pastor had singled out the western church as the tempter. He was happy to explain over a meal.
“I hosted five pastors from North America last year. All Koreans. They came with reading material. Good stuff as far as it went, and they were supplying a sort of formula for church growth. But could one of them even bring himself to mention suffering? No! And when I heard those Korean pastors preach, it was also absent.”
He leaned forward and whispered, “When these pastors preach to the persecuted church, and mention everything but suffering, they are taking away the cross from the Christian life. That’s why I have to say that they are bringing a satanic suggestion. Anyone who says you can follow Christ but not carry your cross is no better than the old deceiver himself. Jesus said so. He said it to Satan, and he said it to Peter. And I’m going to say it to anyone else who dares to think they can be a witness for Christ from anywhere else but on a cross.”
RESPONSE: Today I will focus on the things of God realizing they will always require me to carry my cross.
PRAYER: Lord, I will no longer try and eliminate the way of the cross from my Christian living. May I never again attempt to substitute power for suffering.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.