At The Cross
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. (Galatians 2:20)
When was the last time you heard or sang the “Old Rugged Cross?” When was the last time you heard a message on the cross of Christ? It has been a while more than likely, maybe last Easter, if then.
We have been working on transformation without the cross. We seem to want to feel good about ourselves and work harder to be holy and acceptable (at least to ourselves). Today’s definition of holy and acceptable is more along the lines of what makes me happy. The transformation that most people want is a better me, an improved me, a made over me. God’s definition of transformation is dying and letting Christ live through us. “No longer I live, but Christ in me.”
So, if I am to die in order for Christ to live in me, then there must be something that takes my life. There has to be an instrument and a circumstance that takes my life, kills me, or in more polite terms, expire.
That instrument is the cross. It is meant to be the tool of my demise. But we come to the “nevertheless I live part.” The death desired is internal. Something in me really offends God. It has to die. There is no way to live for God without this significant internal death. We speak a lot about the new birth, but we fail often to speak of why we need a new birth. We invite people to the new birth, but we infrequently speak of the death required which brings about the need for a new birth. It seems from the New Testament that the cross of Christ was preached prefacing the new birth.
But, oh how do we die? There must come a day of total exhaustion. That all the self induced, mind over matter, human determination, comes to an end. Exhausted. Tired. When life becomes a burden and you do not want to go on, then we are willing to die. It is at that point that the cross becomes inviting. It is said that in lifesaving school, they teach to let the person drowning exhaust themselves first or they may drown the rescuer as well. Once they are tired, the lifeguard can bring them to safety. So it is with mankind, sometimes we must exhaust ourselves before we will finally embrace the cross.
Looking to the cross, we find one who suffered and died for us. We begin to realize that all our fruitless self efforts were nailed to that cross. We realize that our addictions were nailed to that cross and the freedom we so desperately need was purchased there by the blood of Jesus.
The internal death begins to take place as we run out of our own breath. We come just as we are, hopeless and tired. We are ready to die and die we do. But in that death, as we expire to self, instead of oblivion and annihilation, at the moment of ceasing to struggle and we abandon ourselves to God, life comes roaring in and the breath of God touches us and life is worth living again. Life, not for ourselves, but life for the one who rescued us, who died for us. The cross then becomes a thing of beauty and an object of deep respect for the one who hung there.