Take Up Your Cross

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When reading this verse, it’s easy for us to overlook the significance of what Jesus said to his disciples.  Today a cross is a religious symbol that is often used as a decoration or as jewelry.

However, to the disciples a cross was a symbol of death, torture, pain, suffering, fear, and humiliation.  A cross was used to execute people.  It resulted in a slow and gruesome death.

Jesus is making an extremely difficult request for all those who would follow him.  To complete this task, a person would need perseverance and dedication.

Faith in the Love of Jesus

The other day, I was reading Matthew 15:21-28.

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyreand Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (ESV)

I started thinking about the Jewish society of that time.  It was extremely prejudicial, and a person’s worth or cleanliness was largely based on race and ethnic origin.  As a Canaanite and a woman, she would have been viewed with disdain.  Also, the statement made by Jesus echoes that sentiment.

However, the woman trusted Jesus.  She believed him to be fair and loving.  She trusted him to not judge her based on superficial things.  Her trust in the love of Jesus was not misplaced.  Jesus healed her daughter and commented on her great faith.

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The Unforgivable Sin

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. (Matthew 12:30-31 (ESV))

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What is the unforgivable sin?  What does “blasphemy against the Spirit” really mean?

The first word in Matthew 12:31 is “Therefore.”  That word is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “for that reason” or “because of that.”  It’s an extremely important word in this verse of Scripture.  It tells us the unforgivable sin is because of what is being described in the previous verse.

In the previous verse, Jesus is talking about people that are against him. He is talking about people that are not followers.

Therefore, the unforgivable sin is to reject Jesus and refuse to follow him.

The Brook Church – Why I Attend

I live in Alabama, so there is no shortage of churches in the area.  There seems to be a church on every corner.

A little over a year ago, I started attending The Brook Church in Madison, Alabama.  I keep going back for several reasons.

I have been able to make friends there.  I enjoy the services and being involved with the children’s ministry.  I love attending the missional community groups that the church sponsors.

Those things are great, but they are not the main reasons I think The Brook is the best church for me.

I continue to learn new things when I attend church on Sunday and during missional community group meetings.  I also feel inspired to be a better person.  I am constantly growing and trying to improve myself.  I want to be willing to forgive others and be willing to apologize when I have done wrong.  I want to be honest and have moral integrity.  I want others to see me as someone with good character traits.

I still have areas of my life that need improvement and I make a lot of mistakes.  However, I am always trying and The Brook is helping me to achieve my goal of being a better person and a better Christian.