In the story of David in the Bible, young David does everything he can to support King Saul and his family. He fights and slays the giant Goliath even though he is a youth. He fights for Israel in the name of God and becomes its most famous general. He serves Saul with all his heart and supports whatever his king commands.
His reward? The king throws a spear at him trying to pin him to the wall. He is persecuted and hunted. He is driven out of his home and even his country to live like a madman at times. He is surrounded by a group of malcontents and misfits who look to him as their model and leader.
Life, at times, just doesn't seem fair. We give and give, we serve and serve, we even obey to the best of our abilities, and the world, instead of applauding, throws a spear at us.
Jesus experienced this and in a much greater way than any of us can begin to understand. We celebrate His "cross-death" for us, but rarely stop to thank Him for HIs "cross-life".
Richard Foster says, "The most radical social teaching of Jesus was his total reversal of the contemporary notion of greatness. Leadership is found in becoming the servant of all. Power is discovered in submission....Christ not only died a 'cross-death', he lived a 'cross-life'...Jesus called his followers to live the cross-life. 'If any man would come after me,...' 'If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all'...The cross-life is the life of voluntary submission. The cross-life is the life of freely accepted servanthood."
A couple of thousand years before God came to earth in the form of Jesus, David showed us the way of the cross-life. He was obedient to his king, never even thinking about raising his hand against God's anointed. He had every opportunity to do so. He had the hearts of the people who would have followed him. But you see, David was a man after God's own heart and he chose God's way even though it meant becoming the spear-throwing target of a madman.
I am often willing (at least ideally in my mind) to think that I can accept the cross-death...to be a martyr if needed. What I struggle to do is to be able to live the cross-life. I am finding that the cross-life is far more difficult to choose than the cross-death.