I'm sure every Christian understands the commandment "love thy neighbor" and all that that entails, but the question is, how? The Bible tells us that it is easy to love those who are good to us, aka our friends, but if we love only those who love us, what merit is there in that for us? Jesus had good friends, they were his closest followers. He traveled from town to town giving people a new way to live. Many people loved to listen to him preach and they loved his message even more. It is safe to say that he enjoyed great popularity (by our standards) for some time. His 12 closest friends loved Jesus so much that they were even willing to give up their lives to follow him! I wonder how many of our friends would do the same for you, or you for them? But at the end of the day, when Jesus was persecuted and betrayed and ultimately lifted high on the cross, who was there for him? For all his great popularity, the Bible recognizes only 3 faithful women and one courageous man at the foot of his cross. Where were all of his "friends" now? Where was their loyalty? Even Peter, the Rock, was no where to be found. I often wonder what went through Jesus' mind at that moment as he looked down from the cross at saw only 4 meager loyal friends out of the THOUSANDS of people he preached to and who followed him.
Doesn't this happen to us sometimes? I have a few wonderful friends, mostly those I have known my whole life, but a few awesome new friends as well. I trust them with so much, but can I trust them with my life? I have been really blessed to have them in my life, but as much as I love them, I'm not 100% sure they would be willing to be crucified next to me on a cross. We really do love and cherish our friends, especially when we are out to dinner with them or celebrating a wedding or another happy occassion? But still I wonder, who among them would be courageous enough to stand at the foot of my cross when I need them? Recently, I had an experience in my life that would challenge this question. A friend of mine, who I have known for only 5 years, surprised me last week when he stood up for me against some "holy" people who chose to tear me down and tried to destroy my reputation. This friend not only stood at the foot of my cross, but he helped me carry the cross as well! He stood by me when no one else would, he had faith in me when I was too weak to go on, he lifted my cross on his shoulder and bore my pain. He was a true friend.
In the end, there is no guarantee we will remain good friends, perhaps this is just for now, just for this moment, just to get me through to the next day. None of us can be sure who will be at the foot of our cross at the end of our life, but I'm pretty sure I'll be surprised! Even more importantly, we need to ask, whose cross do we have the courage to stand at the foot of? Is there someone you know you should be helping but you refuse? Is there someone who has helped you but you are not willing to support for some reason? Is there someone out there who is suffering an injustice at the hands of cruel and ungodly person(s) and you have turned your back on them out of fear of being rejected or persecuted yourself? If so, this is not the message of our Savior. This is not taking up our cross. This is not the Christian charity and brotherly/sisterly love that Jesus spoke about. Make the decision today to do what is right and live in God's Truth and peace. Do not choose what is easier; chose what is right! In doing so, you will have lifted the burden of someone else like Simon helped to lift Jesus' burden. Doing the right thing may not bring you reward on earth but it will mark your place in heaven and bring you great peace on earth.
Remember, the Bible says, "there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friend." Sometimes when we lay down our life for our friends, it is not appreciated, or reciprocated, or even welcomed, but do it anyways. Doing the right thing may not always seem easy, but please don't let the devil make is seem more complicated than it is! Live in Truth and Light today...and everyday...then you will find peace in your heart.