Martyr Complex: What Picking Up Your Cross Is Not

Today’s landscape of Christianity includes people who find it a badge of honor to be persecuted and arrested for doing what they believe is taking up their cross and following Jesus. However, could there be times that one is thinking they are taking up their cross and serving God and actually disobeying God? Certainly there are outstanding examples of people thinking they are serving God by persecuting the church, like that of the apostle Paul. There are the anabaptists who became so zealous for martydom that the English Baptists had to state they were not part of their crowd. One example of the Martyr complex in history is one that Nancy Wilson tells in her #88 Femina podcast.

The account includes a place where Doug and Nancy visited in Kieve. Here is a brief summary excerpt of the example given (though I encourage you to listen to the whole 6 minutes of the podcast above).

We don’t choose our own cross. And here is an example….a monastary where men were essentially buried alive behind brick walls. They decided they wanted to lay their lives down for Christ…take up their cross …and they decided to sit in a cell while it was completely bricked up on the other side. And they lived in these cells until they died…That is not taking up your cross. That is something else entirely. This is not how Jesus wants to follow him. He chooses our crosses for us. We may not inflict pain or suffering on ourselves in order to carry out this command to pick up our cross and follow him. That is not coming after Jesus. That is leading the way, which is disobedient.