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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

XXI CARRYING YOUR OWN CROSS

Mark viii.34.

|If any man will come after me,| says Jesus, |let him take up his cross and follow.| Notice that it is his own cross. This is a different picture of Christian discipleship from that which is commonly presented. We are used to thinking of people as abandoning their own lives, their passions and desires, their own weakness and their own strength, and turning to the one support and safety of the cross of Jesus Christ. We remember that familiar picture of the woman who has been almost overwhelmed in the sea of trouble, and is finally cast up by the waves of life upon the rock where she clings to the cross which is set there as a refuge for her shipwrecked soul. Now, no doubt, that refuge in the cross of Christ has been to many a real experience. |Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on thee,| has been, no doubt, often a sincere confession. But that is not the {57} state of mind which Jesus is describing in this passage. He is thinking, not of some limp and helpless soul clinging to something outside itself, but rather of a masculine, vigorous, rational life, which shoulders its own responsibility and trudges along under it. Jesus says that if a man wants to follow him, he must first of all take up his own burden like a man. He sees, for instance, a young man to-day beset by his own problems and difficulties, -- his poverty, his temper, his sin, his timidity, his enemies; and Jesus says to him: |That is your cross, your own cross. Now, do not shirk it, or dodge it, or lie down on it, or turn from it to my cross. First of all, take up your own; let it lie on your shoulder; and then stand up under it like a man and come to me; and as you thus come, not limply and feebly, but with the step -- even let it be the staggering step -- of a man who is honestly bearing his own load, you will find that your way opens into strength and peace. The yoke you have to carry will grow easier for you to carry, and the burden which you do not desire to shirk will be made light.|

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