Taking up our cross again — Jesus talked about that a lot. Is that because we need to hear it again and again and again? We are daily bombarded by the lure of earthly wants. I heard a pastor say that we are bombarded by 3500 advertisements per day! So maybe we need to be reminded a thousand times a day of the path we are on and the reward waiting for us at the end. “Put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily and follow me.” “Put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily and follow me.” Once more? “Put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily and follow me.” What is our selfish ambition? If we are in a traditional church, it may be to look the part of a ‘got-it-together’ prosperous Christian. But – “if you give up your life for [Jesus], you will find true life” – true cross-bearing.
My selfish ambition often gets the better of me. I have to lay it down every hour, every minute. It feels a little like a 12-step program. I am addicted to my selfish ambition and every minute I have to fight that addiction. So what are the steps in 12-step recovery? If you haven’t experienced them intimately, it wouldn’t hurt to hear what they are. It’s a great set of steps for overcoming all our sins:
- We admit we are powerless over our sin.
- We come to believe that God can restore us.
- We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.
- We make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We are entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.
- We make a list of all people we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.
- We make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong to promptly admit it.
- We seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we try to carry this message to sinners, and to practice these principles is all our affairs.
(copyright A.A. World Services, Inc., slightly modified)
A recovering alcoholic initially has to fight the urge to hide behind a drink constantly. As time passes and they learn to live more authentically, the urge is less often. But it still happens. As Christians, if we are not in regular, authentic prayer and genuinely taking up our cross each day, then we are in that initial constant struggle. Or, we are just not in recovery.