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images-85Chalice Overy
John 16:1-33

“In this world, you will have trouble…”
(John 16:33).

The Lenten season serves as a reminder that following Jesus takes us through Calvary. Though the crosses we bear are not laden with the weight of the world, carrying them the full length of the journey will not be easy. I decided to take up the cross during the awkward years of adolescence. As a young Christian, the cross felt particularly heavy to me at the times when it caused me to be ostracized from my peers. It was the church that helped me bear this burden by embracing me and encouraging me to stay the course. The same church also interpreted for me what it meant to be a Christian. It told me what to believe, and how to apply those beliefs to my daily life. For years, I did my best to meticulously live out these values without considering that there could be any distinction between how the church had taught me to live and how God was calling me to live. Since then, a few Damascus Road encounters have proven that these are not always one in the same.

The longer I live in the world, the more I come to realize that it is a complex reflection of the God who created it. Things are not as simple as they seemed in childhood Sunday School lessons. While embracing the complexities, and trying to take seriously Jesus’ command to love, I can feel the cross becoming heavy again. In my attempts to be faithful, I sometimes find the very church that nurtured me calling my faith into question.

Jesus warned that when we try to live out our faith with integrity, it can cause us even to be “put out of the synagogues” (John 16:2). Being on the outside isn’t any more fun now than it was in high school, but it is a consequence of discipleship. After all, we are following Jesus; the one who chose to do what was needful, rather than what was easy or popular. When the cross becomes heavy, let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him…so that you may not grow weary or lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-4).

Chalice Overy
North Carolina
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