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Bible Study Guide for Sunday February 28, 2021

February 24, 2021
  • Genesis 17:107, 15-16
  • Romans 4:13-25
  • Mark 8:31-38
  • Psalm 22:22-30

There’s no way around it: Christ’s call for us to take up our cross is daunting. Some interpret taking up the cross as a challenge to radically reconfigure their lives. They end up in faraway places doing deeds that appear superhuman. In my own life, I often see taking up the cross as doing things I would rather not be doing. As a late religious bloomer, my experience of Christianity has often been feeling called to volunteer to do things that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable for me. In those situations, self-doubt and anxiety can seem like a metaphorical cross. In many of those situations, I’ve ignored the call and let self-doubt win the day.

At first blush, the lectionary does little to ease the test of the cross. Abraham made a covenant with God! Jesus is Jesus! Who am I with my little self-doubts? Well, Jesus IS Jesus, but despite Paul’s praise of Abraham, Abraham was not perfect. If we look back to Genesis 16, we will see that Abraham did not simply trust in God and wait for the child that God promised to provide him. Instead, Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands and use Sarah’s handmaiden, Hagar, to have a child. This in turn created a corrosive family situation that showed how even Abraham, perhaps especially Abraham, fell short of the glory of God.

However, even when Abraham does fall short, God does not abandon the covenant. God stays with this man Paul calls the father to us all. Abraham is our key to understanding the character of God. We may fail to take up our cross or take up our cross and drop it, but God will not abandon us. God will continue to strengthen us, inspire us, and shore us up even as we fail.

Christ’s call to reorient our lives to the cross will always be challenging, but we should not avoid that call out of a fear of being abandoned by God when we fail. We should be bold, knowing that even if we take a wrong turn somewhere, God will be there waiting for us to turn back.

  • What does taking up the cross mean to you? What has it meant to the Christian communities that you have been part of?
  • How have you felt supported (or not supported) by God when you’ve fallen short?

Author - Ryan Newberry


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