The Struggle for Victory
By Archbishop Angaelos
There are many Christians in the world… and we are all trying to find the right way to live. We’re all trying to find a way to be a faithful, committed Christian, and that’s going to mean many different things. Our Lord says, “if you do not take up your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” And for us, “taking up the cross” can mean different things. Sometimes we visualise “taking up the cross” as being this incredibly different feat, this challenge, this constant struggle… and that’s how we see our Christian lives. For others it will be this glory and this grace and this victory… and that’s how we see it.
The problem is, if we live in either of these extremes, it becomes difficult, and it becomes problematic for us as Christians, because if we just look at the “challenge” and the “struggle,” it becomes burdensome. God has not come to give us a burden, in actual fact He comes and says to us, “Come to me if you are burdened, if you are heavy ladened, if you are tired, and I will give you rest.” But then… if we look at the other side of the Cross just being this glorious, victorious symbol of authority, that is also problematic because that could quite easily slip into us becoming quite proud and arrogant… and there is nothing worse than an arrogant Christian, because that again, is the furthest thing from what we are supposed to be. We are supposed to be meek and lowly and humble and giving and sacrificial. All of those things. None of those things equate to arrogance and self- righteousness.
So what is the reality of our journey then? The reality of our journey is the Cross, that it is sometimes… a struggle, but at the end of it, it is a glorious victory. In our lives, we will struggle. We will struggle daily. Sometimes they’re large, significant, sometimes its crippling struggles, otherwise, there will be your daily struggles that just happen as we live life. Neither of those should overcome us, none of that should make us feel that we have no source or strength or foundation to go back to. We remember at that point that while there was pain and struggle and even a sense of ill-repute in the Cross, when our Lord was there crucified. Yet before He left this world, He left us the glory of the resurrection. He told us that there was something to come afterwards… no matter how strong, how significant, how even crippling the struggle, there is always the glory of that resurrection of the Cross. And that is the reality of our journey.
It is a complete, holistic journey. It is not one that is rooted in an absolute, because our journeys continue to shape and unfold. The only absolute is the presence of God and the salvation to which He calls us. The way we live it, the message and the hope and the victory and even the struggle is going to be shaped daily by our experiences and the presence of God in our lives. So… we give thanks for the struggles, we give thanks for the glory and we give thanks for the victory, knowing that when we “take up our cross,” we follow in the footsteps of our Saviour. Just as He suffered, we will sometimes suffer, but just as He, at the end of that journey, experienced and shared with us the glory and victory of the resurrection, so too will we, at the end of our struggle rise in glory and in the beauty of His kingdom and His promises.