I imagine many of you heard or preached sermons yesterday about Jesus' invitation to pick up one's cross and follow him. Whenever I listen to this passage from Mark's gospel, I am reminded how dangerous it is. I think about all of the times that I picked up the wrong cross, and what it cost me to do so. I think about all of the people who theologize their victimization by assuming that being beaten or cheated or deprived of basic human needs is their "cross to bear." Applied to the wrong situations, the theology of the cross is an invitation to pointless human suffering.
And not only is it easy to misapply, we are frequently urged to misapply it, to "bear with", to "offer up", to endure suffering that we should not endure by people who claim to speak for God.
What if, as a corrective to generations of preaching aimed at our selfishness and self-absorption, we spent a little time as a church trying to figure out how we can best determine what God expects from us in the ways of self-sacrifice, with some particular attention to the ways in which our willingness to sacrifice is used against us, and the ways in which people who have power assign crosses to those who do not.
I'd love to hear what kinds of sermons people heard or preached yesterday, and what role, if any, the misapplication of the theology of the cross played in your own meditation.