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THE CROSS IS A RADICAL THING.
The cross of old Roman times knew no compromise, it never made concessions. It won all its arguments by killing its opponents and silencing them for ever. It spared not Christ, but killed Him. He was alive when they hung Him on that cross and completely dead when they took Him down.
After Christ was raised from the dead the apostles went out to preach His message, and what they preached was the cross. Wherever they went in the world they proclaimed the cross, and God’s power went with them. The radical message of the cross transformed Saul of Tarsus and changed him from a persecutor of Christians to a tender believer and an apostle of the faith. Its power changed bad men into good ones. It shook off the long bondage of paganism and completely altered the whole moral and mental outlook of the Western world.
The cross effects its ends by destroying one pattern, the victim’s, and creating another, its own. Thus it always has its way. It wins by defeating its opponent and imposing its will upon him. It always dominates. It never compromises, never argues nor confers, never surrenders a point for the sake of peace. It cares not for peace, it cares only to end opposition as fast as possible.
With perfect knowledge of all this Christ said, “If any one will follow me let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”. So the cross not only brought Christ’s life to an end, it ends also the first life, the old life, of every one of His true followers. It destroys the old pattern, the Adam pattern in the believer’s life and brings it to an end. Then the God who raised Christ from the dead raises the believer and a new life begins. This is true Christianity.
The cross stands high above people’s opinions, and to that cross all opinions must come at last for judgment. A shallow and worldly leadership would modify the cross to please the many, but to do so is to court spiritual disaster and risk the anger of the Lamb turned Lion.
We all must do something about the cross, we can flee it or die upon it. If we should be so foolish as to flee, we shall by that act put away the faith of our fathers and make of Christianity something other than it is. Then we shall only have left the empty language of salvation, the power will depart with our departure from the cross.
If we are wise we will do what Jesus did, endure the cross and despise its shame for the joy that is set before us. To do this is to submit the whole pattern of our lives to be destroyed and built again in the power of an endless life. The cross will cut into our lives where it hurts most, sparing neither us nor our carefully cultivated reputations. It will defeat us and bring our selfish lives to an end. Only then can we rise in fullness of life to establish a pattern of living wholly new and free and full of good works.
The changed attitude toward the cross that we see today proves not that God has changed, nor that Christ has eased up on His demand that we carry the cross. It means rather that many have moved away from the standards of the New Testament. We have moved indeed so far that it may take nothing short of a new reformation to restore the cross to its right place in the theology and life of the Church.
To die that we might not die. There is no contradiction here, for there are before us two kinds of dying, a dying to be sought and a dying to be avoided at any cost.
In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne, and we are on the throne until we put ourselves on the cross. If we refuse the cross we remain on the throne. We want to be saved but we insist that Christ does all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We want to remain kings within our little kingdoms, and wear our tinsel crowns with all the pride of a Caesar, but doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.
If we refuse to die, then we will die, and that death will mean the loss of many of those everlasting treasures which the saints have longed for. Our un-crucified flesh will rob us of purity of heart, Christlikeness of character, spiritual insight, fruitfulness, and more than all, it will hide from us the vision of God’s face, that vision which has been the light of earth and will be the completeness of heaven.
From: ‘The Root of the Righteous’.
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My Dear Friends,
The blessing of the Lord be with you all.
In the last issue we looked at the blessings which are ours in “Life in Him”. In this issue we are looking at how these are applied through His cross and the demands His cross make on us. May we find Him to be our faithful Lord and Saviour, and know His enabling day by day.
Yours in our Master’s Name,
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