The Herald Weekly Vol XVI : 45

The Christian way of life

The life of a Christian is not the way of sorrows

Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows) is related to the Catholic ritual of imitating the sufferings of Christ on His way to the cross. The Way of Sorrows in Jerusalem demonstrates an effort to remember how Jesus had carried the cross through the streets of Jerusalem towards the place of His crucifixion. The route begins with the place where Jesus was scourged, and proceeds on to the three places where Jesus was purported to have fallen under the weight of the cross.

The Via Dolorosa is the pilgrimage route of Catholics; the ritual of following this path begins around 18th century. Especially when Good Friday is near, churches would hold these activities of remembrance to mark the passion of Jesus. However, in actual fact, there is neither historical nor archaeological evidence that Jesus take that route, and thus is not entirely biblical. It also does not mean Christians need to walk a life of sorrows; neither does it mean this is a necessary means to reach the end of a Christian life.

The cross is the way of life

We do not deny that a Christian life begins with the cross. After we have believed in the Lord, baptised and have joined the church, we begin our life as a new creation. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, cf Ephesians 4:21-25).

And thus the life of a Christian begins with “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

“Taking up the cross” is the way of life for a Christian, and it is a life lesson that Christians need to face; a spiritual exercise in life. Judging from how Calvin has put it, he has drawn lessons from his life experiences and is really speaking about self-denial (the life perspective of taking up the cross). However, self-denial is not a one-time event; it is a process.

Transformation is a lifelong process, and it shows itself in our daily spiritual exercise; the Christian life is an onward journey towards heaven. In this process, we gradually understand and are assured as we walk daily with the Lord. Ultimately, the Lord uses the taking up of our crosses to teach us the spiritual lesson of denying ourselves. When a godly person pursuits the path of becoming a disciple of Christ, God would use tribulations to train him.

The cross is an exercise towards victorious Christian living

Calvin thinks that God uses trials to mould those who are willing to follow Him and become His disciples. But why must it be through trials? The main reason is; this is the pattern set for us through the life of Christ! The reason why Christ came to this world is to obediently submit Himself to the will of the Father, ready to bear all trials. With the same mind, believers should thus follow the footsteps of the Lord, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

Christians should take up the cross and live for the Lord! This is a life of putting ourselves aside and living a life of self- denial. Jesus had said unto his disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). It is a lifelong process which every Christian should follow!

Taking up the cross is not an option; it is a must! Although this does not mean we actively seek trials, it tells us it is an inevitable process due to the circumstance we are in, for Jesus has reminded us, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The way of the cross brings blessings

Dying is easy, but living is hard! Death occurs in the blink of an eye; but living is literally our earthly life. Paul sees death as good, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23), but he also has a desire to live, for he has a noble cause to pursue!

Living is more important. God has left Christian in this world with a noble cause! Paul says to his readers, “Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;” (Philippians 1:24-25).

We are not only living for ourselves; we are living for the Lord, using our lives to bless others, be it in church or at home. These blessings are especially made clear through the calling of the Lord. If we are faithful to the call of God in our lives and vocation, we will surely be blessed in the place where God has put us, and be a blessing to others. God’s blessings to us becomes a mean where He could use us to bless others.

Even when we face troubles or sicknesses, or when we suffer the different setbacks in life, our lives should glorify Him. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). The life of a Christian should be, “… with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Philippians 1:20). There is nothing more meaningful than living a life for the Lord and glorifying our Lord!

Rev Daniel Tan
Article from Calvary Jurong, Weekly 4 Nov’18

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