Does the Life Lived According to Our Own Faith, Our Own Understanding, and Our Own Walking in His Presence Explain Why Each Soul Must Bear a Cross?
As we seek to apply that learned in previous lessons dealing with attributes of the soul which should be magnified through our daily activities, we begin to realize our lack of application of those essential elements or attributes. We realize that we bear crosses because we have not yet learned to give complete expression to our soul faculties. We gradually realize how much of the inner self we have covered up, pushed aside for what we considered the more important desires of the conscious self. In so doing we have pushed ourselves further and further away from God. How well we begin to comprehend that our crosses are created by ourselves!
On the other hand, as we learn and apply these attributes of the soul, there comes joy and peace in the realization that the inner self is awakening and that it is ever on the alert to express itself through the exercising of faith, virtue, and understanding. Our relationships with others are made more perfect, and the ideal is set in Him. We see our crosses in a new light; we begin to catch a glimpse of the glory of the crown. We come to the realization of having, in truth, a part of the divine plan.
Why Has the Cross Been Chosen Rather Than Some Other Philosophy That Might Correlate the Material and Spiritual Life?
The cross is the emblem of the subjective self of the One who bore the burden of the world. It is chosen, not because of the personality of the greater teacher, Jesus the man, but because of the way to the Father made plain through Jesus the Christ. It is the symbol of the life and teachings of Him who stirred the souls of all to express in all other forms of truth. It is a part of the truth of the world and the whole truth for those who choose its standard. It answers every question of the soul that is ready for light and satisfies the longing of the innermost being. It is a symbol of the way of truth and light, universal in appeal, eternal and impelling, yet personal in application. In seeking the Divine, we have taken Jesus the Christ as our Ideal, for we find in Him the embodiment of all truth throughout the ages. Others may point the way. He said, "I am the way."
Why Is the Cross, the Emblem of Shame, Necessary for Those Who Seek the Crown?
We consider a cross an emblem of shame, for innately we realize it is symbolic of opposition to God's law. As in the beginning, the misuse of power given unto us brought suffering in this material world. The cross is the emblem of shame to those who in the material world judge from appearance. It calls for humility, not stubbornness. It calls for suffering, not retorts. It calls for patience, not impetuosity. It calls for love of enemies, not hatred. It calls for forgiveness, not unforgiveness. All this must be borne in the cross that the crown may be laid upon the brow of the real heir, and not the usurper, who would never understand his or her subjects nor the road to true development. Who else has cleared the way for humankind and said to all, "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother"?
In bearing the cross we come to know the real meaning of the crown, the joy of completing a work, and the success that is the reward of a finished race. As we develop day by day, the idea of shame passes and there comes the joy of being one with Him in the great work of redeeming humanity. It is, indeed, an emblem of opportunity, and we come to see more and more the face of the Master reflected in each cross we bear.
The cross does not always remain the cross of shame. In the life of the Christ, the Holy One, the Son of God, it became glorified in having been overcome. Just so with us; each cross met, bravely borne, and overcome, becomes radiant with light and brings us into a more perfect understanding of the purpose of life and the glory that may be in the crown of life.
There was a cross that fell on me with shadows dark and long It crowded out my sun, my light, and blotted out my song; But when I raised my eyes for help, I saw a Radiant One, That stooped to lift my heavy cross-'Twas Christ, the Blessed Son.