A Sign of a Real Church

If any want to be my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (Luke 9:23).

Our cross is already there, ready, from the very beginning; we need only take it up. But to keep us from believing that we must simply choose an arbitrary cross, or simply pick our suffering as we will, Jesus emphasizes that each of us has his or her own cross, ready, appointed, and appropriately measured by God. Each of us is to bear the measure of suffering and rejection specifically appointed for us. And the measure is different for each of us. God deems some worthy of great suffering, and to them he grants the blessing of martyrdom. Others he does not allow to be tempted beyond their strength.

The cross is not the horrible end of a pious, happy life, but stands rather at the beginning of community with Jesus Christ. Every call of Christ leads to death... death awaits us, namely death in Jesus Christ, the dying away of our old form of being human in Jesus' call... Suffering is the mark of the disciples of Jesus Christ. The disciple is not above the teacher. Discipleship is... having to suffer. Thus did Luther count suffering among the signs of the real church. ___

 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, No Greater Love: Lenten Meditations.


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