Cross Purposes 33 / It IS Finished!
This is the final installment of the Cross Purposes Series. The articles are in reverse order, so if you'd like to read them first to last, you will need to scroll down the list to the first to read them in ascending order. There are a total of thirty three, one for each of the thirty three years traditionally thought to be the length of the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is fitting that they are now completed just before Lent.
This final offering of Cross Purposes could be subtitled Cross Eyes, The Horizontal Attitude. Let’s explore this a bit. Basically the vertical beam of the Cross represents the believers’ relationship with the Lord. The horizontal beam stands for our relationship with one another. A Christian has to be "Cross eyed” in both directions in order to see straight!
This is it - the thirty-third, one cross and one corresponding chapter, honoring the traditional thirty-three years of the life of Jesus Christ. “It is finished” was the declaration He made that His work was complete, and thus it is a fitting ending for this series as well.
Since a number of the preceding chapters seem centered more around the “vertical beam” of the Cross - seeing how we personally relate to Jesus in co-crucifixion (See Galatians 2:20), it’s time to make it even more personal and practical by expressing how to be Cross eyed on the “horizontal beam”, that is, how we view and relate to one another in this life. It cannot be only about “Jesus and me”. It also has to be about Jesus relating to others through me.
If we view ourselves in terms of the finished work of the Cross, might it be right to also view others and relate to them in terms of the same finished work - even when we may not see the evidence of its effectualness being lived out? Even when persons are caught up in horrendous bondage in sin? In other words, we see them by faith as complete in Him. And we love as He loves us!
We behold them according to the vision of the finished work of God, even as His “work in progress” - not according to the “flesh”, by our “natural assessment” of them: “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.” (2 Corinthians 5:16)
No, this does not mean we condone and affirm sin, nor are we “inclusive” of it, nor should we ever bow to its “come hithers” as the people of God! It means we essentially view sinners as God sees them through Jesus, and relate to them that way. And when we speak the truth, we speak it through His Love and see them through His eyes, imploring the Holy Spirit for the approach God would have us use!
There are no exceptions when it comes to “beaming” Christ love, even to our enemies. The condemnation and criticism seen among believers these days makes one wonder how well it’s really understood that we are to carry the power of unconditional Christ Love to the world - how we’re to be the vessels of that Love here on Earth - filled with it to overflowing... That’s what sons of God in the making do.
That horizontal beam means I see myself right there on that cross, in Jesus, my arms outstretched with His, opening them wide! I’m crucified. My ego bit the dust and has no say about anyone else. This is the horizontal vision of Cross eyes - our arms open wide to sinners, since it is through this wondrous Love alone that they may be set free. (See Romans 5:8 - “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”)
It’s frankly disappointing when Christians are found, especially in today’s electronic social media, publicly bashing Souls that the Father loves who are in severe chains and bondage. Clearly, yes, there is sin to be addressed! No question about that. But it seems almost to have reached the point of the frenzy of blood sport to criticize and condemn, never getting around to the Gospel of the Cross and its power to set free and to transform.
That kind of “witness” is not only ineffectual; it profanes the Name of the Lord, and that is the deeper meaning of “taking the Lord’s name in vain” - standing by our opinions, not His Truth. It’s a personal agenda, almost a personal vendetta. This is not being about the Father’s business. And we are, after all, here on family business, are we not - as ambassadors of Christ? (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Anger and hostility are often placed upon someone who is deeply entrapped as a prisoner of war! An attitude like that is as insane as pushing the head of someone who is drowning further under water, rather than tossing them a life preserver and helping them back up into the boat... or stoning a woman caught in adultery.
Certainly some sins are highly politically charged today, perhaps more than ever before. It can be difficult to maintain our balance with information coming our way in copious amounts at light speed continually.
The solution? It might be to our advantage, when faced with all this “info-glut”, to get into the habit of routinely stepping away from the fray, and quietly getting into the Presence of our Lord in prayer and in His Word, so as to deeply discern and perceive in our heart's and mind’s eye the finished vision of victory in Jesus, on behalf of those whom our little peevish egos instead might like to see frying in hell.
Regular daily time spent in prayer works wonders on us too, as an attitudinal adjustment, by the way.
In this silence, stillness, and reflection we might instead see them stepping hand in hand with Jesus, out of the sepulcher on Easter morning. They have been brought up out of the darkness, led out of captivity, and raised up in Him! That is a kind of prayer we may not be used to. It is a picture with intention, and a picture, it is said, is worth a thousand words. How brightly they shine! They are free from the power of death and sin!
I have often thought also of the story of the raising of Lazarus that way. Jesus calls him forth, but then He says to the bystanders, “Loose him and let him go.” The rest is up to us, in other words! And there certainly are no “innocent” bystanders. The question is, are we binding, or loosing others and letting them go? And in the process are we getting back what we’re putting forth along these lines? Father, forgive them... if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive you. To forgive is to release to God, to let them go into His keeping. And as we forgive, we are forgiven and released!
The people we’d like to bury or keep buried are no more or less worthy of the gift of redemption than any of us. They are cosmic POW’s just like us! We’d like to think we’re better, or that our sins are not so severe - we who are so full of self. What we have in common is our need of Christ Love to be set free.
His work is finished - from Gethsemane to Ascension - and now it’s up to us to be the vessels whereby the healing of Christ's Passion is manifested through the power of the Holy Spirit in us! His work is finished, but ours is not, and we must get really Cross eyed if we’re to see Souls the way He sees them, and love them as He loves them.
It’s up to us to announce the great emancipation proclamation of the Good News so that they too can know they are free at last, and can walk in that freedom by the power of the Holy Spirit, enjoying the life and blessing God intended for them - now and forever. So be it. Amen.