I’ve been reading John’s gospel book through Lent, and will finish it on Saturday after Easter. This morning was the end of chapter 18; Jesus’ trial. John only reports a short account of the trial, but it’s enough to illustrate what’s going on. Something that struck me was that today’s collect, “on the cross of Christ,” relates to this scene quite well.
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The trial of Jesus is a good example of suffering shame and loss, not only because its illegality and lack of due process was shameful, but because the New Testament reports a couple other trials as well (Peter, Stephen, Paul) which followers of Christ underwent for the sake of their Lord.
I’m glad we Christians are not in a position where we’re under threat of trial simply because of what we believe, though being an internet user it’s awfully clear to me what the culture around me thinks about our faith. The concept of God is ridiculed, the historical person of Jesus is ignored, the work of the atonement is scorned, the voice of the Church is reviled. Granted, many mistakes that we and previous generations made can be cited as major causes of much of the confusion and mistrust. Nevertheless, when push comes to shove, there are many people in our country who think it’s ‘shameful’ to be a Christian (or religious in general). At the moment this only results in loss of dignity and respect – things which can be regained over the course of time on a personal level.
But despite the “culture wars” there is still that undying truth that we must be ready to suffer loss for the sake of our Lord. Becoming an Anglican clergyman in this day and age is not all that far from taking a vow of poverty – gone are the days when one can get a nice job as an assistant priest for a couple years before going on to be the vicar in some beautiful countryside parish. No, now it’s a world of planting churches, evangelizing new generations, a lot of hard work, and no hopes of a dependable salary for it. Not that the job market in the business world is spectacular either, but still… being a full-time (or mostly-full-time) minister is going to be costly. But in the end, it’s a price my wife and I are willing to pay, because the work and its results are worth it. The king for whom we work is worth it. The kingdom which we serve is worth it.
Not every Christian is called to the clergy, thank the Lord. But every Christian is called to share in Christ’s sufferings. The details will differ for each of us, but the path is the same. The only way to the Father is through His Son Jesus Christ, and Jesus hands us a cross of our own the moment we step onto His path. If we’re going to carry it, we might as well carry it well.