Aug. 11, 2016

Cross Purposes 2 / My Cross

1 Corinthians 1:18. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (KJV)

As I read this, it occurs to me that, if the cross is foolishness to those who perish, then as the power of God to those of us who are being saved, it must be wisdom, since foolishness is the opposite of wisdom.

Thus the cross of Jesus Christ, in the greater sense, is God’s wisdom for delivering my soul from darkness, and the power of any and all evil.

There is something to understand here, however, that is stated in just about the same way in all three synoptic gospels, having to do with “the cross”. Matthew puts it this way in chapter 16: 24 - “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”.

“His” cross... “my” cross. Is there a difference? 

The Cross is the focal point within the specific redemptive work of Jesus Christ in the events of His passion. Yet there is a cross which - if I claim Christ - I must take up, which is beyond and yet mysteriously one with that of Jesus. It is a cross which is specifically the path I must walk every day in a co-crucifixion of my old Adam. This is the cross where, by Grace, my redemption becomes worked out as my salvation.

What does my cross look like?

My cross arrives in the form of every choice which confronts me where I want to say “no” when I know I ought to say “yes”. It appears where I wish to say “yes” when that Still Small Voice - if I’m listening and willing to hear, acknowledge, and obey - lets me know that “no” would be the choice that sends the adversary running.

My cross appears as it makes me aware, when for instance, I’m feeling road rage coming on, that it would be a better choice to simply repeat the Jesus Prayer, or sing a praise chorus, until that anger disappears, and as that lift of the Holy Spirit rushes in and reroutes the potential of a very bad day, transforming it from victimhood to victory.

My cross appears in the form of someone in need, who is clearly in my space because the Lord put him or her there, and it would be an act of crucifixion of self-will if I stopped long enough to lend a hand, instead of going my merry way. 

Or perhaps it might mean that instead of spending that $5 on another mocha latte, my sharing might mean that another Soul will genuinely be warmed and be fed, and better yet will feel the love of Christ.

My cross appears as the friend sincerely vexed or troubled calling me just as I’m about to dash off to have lunch with another friend. However the caller really is Jesus in disguise, telling me, inasmuch as you do unto one of these, so you do to Me. Behold, I stand at the door and knock... What will my choice be? Will I do my own thing, or will I open the door and let Jesus in?

As daily little events unfold, I begin to understand that my cross - which Jesus more than encourages me to embrace - is intensely personal and utterly practical, working miracles of help, healing, and deliverance on many levels of being - both in my life and in those I’m called to minister to. It’s a “witness” which communicates on a deeper level, that of being present and one with the Savior in His cross. My daily cross-opportunities become His Cross Purposes worked out in me!

Jesus goes on to say, in fact, one of those paradoxical things which may seem conflicting, until it is grasped through experience: “For whoever wishes to save his life (literally “soul”) shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:25). These are serious words, making it very plain that discipleship is not “easy-believe-ism”; it is the path of salvation, mapped and marked for us by the Holy One Who is called The Way! And I - empowered by the Holy Spirit - am to walk the path in Him.

On His path I decrease and He increases. This for me is what “Christ consciousness” means, Christ awareness - perceiving Him in every person and situation. 

Yes, Jesus brings me the gift of redemption. Yet it is for me to see my cross with Jesus in His cross, as St. Paul puts it, through working out my salvation with fear and trembling, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit - God who works in me both to will and to do His good pleasure. (See Philippians 2:12,13).

It is in these thousand and one little daily opportunities where my cross presents itself to me. And I willingly, if not joyfully, lay myself down upon it, and surrender to it as unto the Lord. Here I can see that these are the means whereby I am set free… a little more, a little more, and a little more. These are the opportunities whereby the tentacles of the adversary are unwound from my soul, like strips of grave cloths, once I have been awakened by the Light of the Son!

In these awakenings, awarenesses, and understandings given to me each day, I give thanks, lifting up my heart, my hands, and my voice in gratitude and thanksgiving forevermore to Him Who can do far more than we can ask or think. To Him be the glory here and now, and throughout all ages to come.

Amen.