Tuesday, July 02, 2002

The Cross

Emily Stimpson wrote a very good piece about the Burden of the Cross last week, which is here. I essentially agree with what she wrote, but it is incomplete, and there’s one potential error in that incompleteness (though Emily is much too smart, not to mention orthodox, to mean or intend that error).

For Emily wrote only about the sort of cross that most would think obvious: the disease, or the hard job, the challenging family, the disordered personality. These are all the burdens of life that each of us sees and recognizes as the difficulties we must bear. But there is another kind of Cross to bear, and it is much more invidious in many ways, and it afflicts Americans and Westerners disproportionately. It is the Cross of Contentment.

It is comparatively easy for a person who is sick (at least one of deep faith) to say “God, I can’t do this without you. Please heal me, or at least give me the strength to endure.” It is much harder to recognize a problem in having a good job, two cars, 3.2 kids and a dog, down the street from the park where your kid’s little league team plays. Many people would even say that’s a Cross they would willingly bear.

But it is so very much harder to remember one’s duty to others when one is flying along fat, dumb, and happy (as the airline pilots say) than when one is also suffering. Few things are more corrosive to the soul than basic contentment and self-satisfaction when they go unchallenged. The Cross of the Content is simply the burden to remember that others have it not nearly so good, and that is a difficult burden indeed when one rarely sees those others.


The error that is to be avoided is the notion that Christ chooses the Cross for us. When Christ tells us, as on this past Sunday, that we must take up our Cross and follow Him, he is not telling us He has made us a Cross, but instead acknowledges that Crosses are endemic to the fallen world. God does not, so far as I can tell, pick out suffering for us that we might desire Him more. It would be a strange God indeed who suffered Munchausen-by-Proxy disease. God could just as easily cause us to desire Him directly as cause the things that make us desire Him. Even in the Book of Job, the Adversary (Satan) chooses the Crosses as means of testing Job, though God does inflict them.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home