Chapter 2 – The Uncomfortable Cross

From the book: “Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community” by Brett McCracken

  • Jesus, the Supreme Victim

Watch: Jordan Peterson on Jesus.

“To be a Christian is to accept the discomfort of a way of life inspired and empowered by a cruel, rugged old cross, a symbol of scorn and degradation.” (pg. 45)

“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’” (Mark 8:34-38, ESV)

This is not just about physical death, but more importantly, about being dead to a culture that rejects Christ’s call and the Gospel message. It is being unwilling to compromise our belief in the eternal for a temporary earthly benefit.

The author identified five likely losses when one chooses to take up their cross and follow Jesus.

  • Loss of Being Your Own Boss

“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?”
(Isaiah 45:9, ESV)

Wanting salvation without giving up our personal autonomy is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer referred to as “Cheap Grace.” It is grace on our terms rather than the terms offered by Jesus, the giver of the grace.

  • The Loss of Consumer Religion

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, ESV)

Christianity is not about worldly success, although that is not prohibited. It is about caring for others as you would care for yourself. This takes commitment toward the well-being of others rather than focusing only on yourself.

Consider the parable of the Talents or Minas: Matthew 25:14-30 or Luke 19:11-27. The master tasked the servants with responsibility for his resources. Two were faithful while one was not. We are given talents (skills or resources) to serve our master by helping others. Will we be faithful?

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4, ESV)

  • The Loss of Pride

“Look! See this woman kneeling here! When I entered your home, you didn’t bother to offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You refused me the customary kiss of greeting, but she has kissed my feet again and again from the time I first came in. You neglected the usual courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has covered my feet with rare perfume. Therefore her sins – and they are many – are forgiven, for she loved me much; but one who is forgiven little, shows little love.” (Luke 7:44-47, ESV)

Many do not understand the availability of God’s grace to all people. It is something to be earned, but it is given to us by humbly requesting it. In return, we should offer grace to others without expecting them to earn it.

  • The Loss of Power, Coolness, and Cultural Respectability

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, ESV)

Christianity is counter-cultural.

“If we could grasp and believe for a certainty that God is our Father and that we are his sons and heirs, the world would immediately seem vile to us, with everything that it regards as precious, such as righteousness, wisdom, kingdoms, power, crowns, gold, glory, riches, pleasure, and the like. . . . We would not attach our hearts so firmly to physical things that their presence would give us confidence and their removal would produce dejection and even despair.” (Martin Luther, Life and Works 26:392-94)

It is the Gospel message and not our education, status, or possessions that must differentiate us from the surrounding culture.

  • The Loss of Health, Wealth, and Comfort

“. . .I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13, ESV)

Paul wrote this while in a Roman prison. A price he was paying for faithfulness to the Gospel. But Paul saw his suffering and persecution as signs of flourishing, not loss. We should do the same.

“To be a Christian is to count the cost and accept all loss in exchange for the gain of a new life in Christ.” (pg. 55)


“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish [dung, refuse, garbage, trash, filth], in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8, ESV)

Rather than being a symbol of shame, the cross is a symbol of victory for those who believe.

The cross represents the fact that, in suffering, God is with us, not beyond us.

Similar Posts