A common lenten prayer practice that is used by millions of Christians throughout the world in the season of Lent is to reflect on the steps and stages that Jesus took as he carried his cross to Golgotha, the hill on which Jesus was crucified.
People reflect on what Jesus did, but also ask how they can follow Jesus’ call to follow him on the way of the cross. Recently I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ death and was struck by the fact that his death wasn’t simply hard, it was downright scandalous.
To be crucified was a shameful way to die. It had no dignity. It was something reserved for the outcasts and criminals. Those who died on a cross were thought to have been cursed by God.
When Jesus asks us to take up our cross he’s asking us not simply to face death, but to walk on a path that many people simply will not understand.
To be a follower of Jesus, in his life and in his death means that you will probably be called to live in ways that most people, even in your own “tribe,” will not understand. This might mean building relationships of a dialog across political lines. It might mean taking a job that pays less to do work that means more. It might mean opening your life to people who can disrupt the comfortable patterns you enjoy.
If you find that people sometimes think you’re crazy for the ways you open your heart and life to others; you’re in good company. Jesus confused people his whole life and even in his death. He never let common sense or decorum getting in the way of radically loving those in need.