For me, to say nothing of my unsaved peers, [my church] felt foreign, out of place. It wasn't just the programs or the style of music; it was the posture, the place the church seemed to occupy in the world. So much about the church felt foreign . . . I understood, even then, that people would stumble over the cross. But it felt like I had to get them past an array of stumbling blocks just to get to the one stumbling block that mattered. And so as I began to feel God's pull toward vocational ministry, a question began to brew in me: Is there a way that we as the church can be faithfully, even radically, biblical, and at the same time be culturally relevant?And from Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson:
This expression "to take up one's cross" is not an idiom by which to refer to some trivial annoyance—an ingrown toenail, perhaps, or a toothache, or an awkward in-law: "We all have our crosses to bear." No, in the first century, that sort of interpretation would have been impossible. In the first century it was as culturally unthinkable to make jokes about crucifixion as it would be today to make jokes about Auschwitz. To take up your cross does not mean to move forward with courage despite the fact you lost your job or your spouse. It means you are under sentence of death; you are taking up the horizontal cross-member on your way to the place of crucifixion. You have abandoned all hope of life in this world. And then, Jesus says, and only then, are we ready to follow him.