The Problems With The Cross of Jesus (part 1) 

24 Comments
March 13, 2014

We have a serious problem.  Actually, two of them.  Please don’t let the title of this post offend you.  Please hear me out.  While I don’t think a couple of blog posts will solve all the issues related to this topic, I do hope today’s and tomorrow’s posts can help shed light on the solution to these two major problems regarding the cross of Jesus Christ.  In today’s post, I’d like to address one of the major problems we are facing regarding this issue.  In tomorrow’s post, I’d like to address the other.      

In the earthly life of Jesus Christ, the cross was a major theme.  He was born for the cross.  His life prepared Him for the cross, and all that was released from Him to us was made possible because of the cross.  With that said, I don’t believe it is a stretch to say that all of us who live by the indwelling life of Jesus Christ will also face the brutality of the cross as a major theme in our own lives.  This is why I feel it is so important to shed light on these two major problems head on.

Problem #1  Misguided Motivations for The Cross 

For many, the reasons for bearing the cross of Jesus Christ can be many.  A quick survey of church history, and a poll of the opinions of other believers will bear this out.  For some, the cross is a glorified tool of karma.  What comes around goes around, or what you sow is what you reap.  For folks who inwardly believe this, the cross helps keep them in check, and helps keep us on the proverbial ‘straight and narrow’.  For others, the cross is a sadistic tool of purification.  Many forms of religious practices (and forms of torture) have actually arisen out of this line of thought.  

While the cross does keep us dependent on the life of the Lord dwelling within us, it is not a sadistic tool of torture or gradual purification.  Needless to say, I think this is a faulty way of thinking for reasons that I hope are obvious.    

For countless others, the message of the cross has become a subtle (or not so subtle) tool of condemnation and control of others.  The message of the cross can become a message that seeks to keep people under the thumb of subjugation. It is quite subtle can sound something like this:

“You need to bear the cross in this area of your life” or “The problem with you is you are not bearing the cross in your life”.  

Let me be clear about something.  This is almost always a statement of condemnation or manipulation.  Beware of this line of thinking and those who seek to use it against you.  The problem with this line of thinking is that there can actually be some truth to it.  This is why this dangerous thought process can be hard to detect.  It sounds like wisdom, and may even contain a bit of wisdom.  The best arguments of bondage almost always have hints of truth in them.  

The message of bearing the cross is not a way to get someone to stop doing something you don’t like, nor is it a legitimate way to convince another of doing something they don’t want to do that you think they should.  That’s called manipulation, plain and simple.  The message of the cross is for you, not for you to use against another.

The substance and motivation of the cross has always been about love, and love’s propagation.  

The highest form of love expressed is the cross.  I know this is true, although I do not understand all the reasons why.  God is love, and when Love became flesh, He demonstrated the highest form of love through His cross.  

His cross was unjust.  

His cross was brutal.  

His cross was His choice.  

His cross was for our freedom.

The greater the injustice of the cross, the greater the love expressed.  The greater the brutality of the cross, the greater the love expressed.  The greater the ability to choose the cross, the greater the love expressed.  The expression of love was the point of Jesus’ cross, and the expression of love is the point of our cross.  While I don’t pretend to understand why this is true, I simply know that it is.  

Brothers and sisters, you are free from misguided beliefs in karma.  You are free from religious forms of sadistic purification.  You are also free from the need to judge whether or not another is bearing their cross.  You are now free to simply receive extravagant love from the one who endured His cross for the joy of lavishing love on you, and you are also now free to embrace this cross for the expression of this extravagant love.  This is our only motivation for the cross.  

That brings me to the second problem that I’d like to address regarding the cross of Jesus Christ.  I’ll address this problem in tomorrow’s post.  I hope this has been helpful.

Love!

Jamal Jivanjee 

UPDATE: The Problems With The Cross of Jesus (part 2)

Jamal Jivanjee

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24 responses to The Problems With The Cross of Jesus (part 1) 

  1. There is a huge difference from one bearing the cross he or she has been given in The Lord, and someone tying you to a cross they feel you need.

    Both crosses come from a ‘Tree’ one has Life, and the other is death, one cross is in Love, the other is with contempt.

    True Love is devoid of contempt!

  2. WOW! Insightful! Coming from a background where “bearing the cross” was an honor badge, it’s yet another layer that has fallen from me!

    Thank you brother!

  3. The cross is a door that we all must pass through on our journey to Him. Unless we experience His cross we can never understand His love for us. I am coming to understand that our relationship with Christ is, indeed, a corporate relationship as His bride – however, the cross is particularly a personal experience where self is crucified so that He might live through the corporate expression of His crucified body. The cross is so much more than a “religious symbol” – to those who wish to live in authentic body-life it must be the place that our flesh calls home as our spirit dwells in Him. Love the post and look forward to the follow-up!

  4. Wow Jamal this such a important message to us, his beloved .And am Realizing anew that if we only see the cross as a place of suffering ,pain and death , and as a law to be obedient to , we will be as one who looses all hope and joy . How sad this is for anyone to see. It reminds of all the movies that focus on the death of Christ, but not on His resurrection !
    If we see the cross out of His eyes and heart of “love “, we know that it is not just a place of dying in Christ alone, but that it is a place of resurrection power where we are now seated in heavenly places and this gives me great hope,It is much like a woman going through birth pains , but when she has finally delivered her child, there is joy unspeakable and a love bond that can not be broken.
    May we count it all joy to take up our cross and follow Him .The Lord is doing great things through his bride and in His resurrected love we are set above the sting of the cross for our eyes are set upon the prize and there is no place of judging others , only his extravagant love is poured out….

  5. I agree wholeheartedly with your post, Jamal. I’ve seen this phrase abused in the way you describe.

    However, I would also say that we shouldn’t swing the pendulum to the other side and always react as if this phrase carries someone else’s self-serving manipulation. I’m not saying that is what you are doing, just making a point. If we are walking with others in the life of Christ, there will be times where they need to point out that we may not be acting from His indwelling life (basically synomomous with bearing the cross), and I think it is wise to consider that they may be spot on. I know this has happened to me many times, and it is part of the purpose of walking together in Christ.

    I like what Jim said above, that the true cross comes from true love.

    Looking forward to part 2!

    • Jamal Jivanjee March 13, 2014 at 5:55 pm

      Mark,

      That’s a great point. One I’m glad you made. This has happened to me as well. I think that’s natural when it comes from people who do know us and walk in relationship with us. When those times happen, deep down in our spirit, (if the correction is indeed coming from the Lord) it will resonate with us at some level. Manipulation will not be needed. While difficult to hear at first, life and joy will result when giving heed to the correction that comes from our friends who know us. Obviously this is the opposite of what occurs when the cross is used as a tool of control.

  6. I am reminded of Paul’s warning to the “espoused bride” from being led astray from the simplicity and singleness of devotion to Christ by preaching “another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel” in 2 Cor. 11. It goes without saying that there is “another cross” as well – indeed a perversion of the Truth by “leaders” (or those who want to be) to manipulate others by guilt. Instead of being an intimate symbol of love in order to be set free from fear, it is used as a dispassionate symbol of law to come under fear. Sadly I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of this kind of cross message, and it’s very damaging all around. Especially to love and intimacy in relationships. Thank you for addressing this problem and I look forward to more.

    • Jamal Jivanjee March 13, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      Well said Pamela. I too have been guilty of being on the giving end of this kind of ‘cross’ message for the purpose of controlling others. I have wounded many in my noble attempts to control them for what I thought was their own good, or the good of others.

      After much heartache over the years, I am learning to simply and extravagently love others. What becomes of these relationships is not for me to decide, but for me to trust the Lord with.

  7. A thought on condemnation: There is no condemnation in Christ, yet also, there is an eternal cross. Condemnation is not the same as death, for who can condemn a dead person? It is the unrecognization or unacceptance of our death with Christ that offends our feelings of being alive in our ego of self-rightness, self-reputation and self-service.

  8. what was intended as an instrument of death in the hands of men, became an instrument of life in the hands of Love

  9. Kenneth Dawson March 13, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Yes Jamal this is very helpful to me because our little gathering here in tulsa,ok is right now each Sunday doing an extra study about the aspects of the cross..the main point of this study is our co-crucifiction as believers with Christ and your statements about love have given me some insights due to the fact I have been struggling with some of the opinions that the study is propagating.thanks

  10. Paul said “For the joy set before him, he endured the cross”. God’s ability to reflect his nature is only possible by the cross. “It is no longer I that live but Christ within me. “By the spirit we recon the deeds of the flesh dead.” After beginning in the Spirit, are you now trying to perfect yourself in the flesh?” The only thing God has planned for our flesh is death. It has to be endured because the flesh cannot kill the flesh. The spirit is the only way the flesh is slayed by the cross. He then gives us his resurrection life by his spirit. “The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you.” Our part is to allow him to kill us so that we can reflect his Glory. JESUS said to the rich young ruler “Why call me good? There is only one good and that is my father.” His purpose was to reflect his fathers glory. Our purpose is to reflect the Grooms glory in his Bride, those that have abandoned themselves in the love of the bride groom.

  11. Mary Ellen Robinson March 14, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Great post, Jamal; and a lot of food for thought here! Looking forward to Part II.

  12. Beautiful, convicting, and joy-provoking. Thank you, Jamal!

    • AnDraea,

      The fact that this was joy-provoking for you makes the pain that went into this discovery worth it. Thanks for letting me know. I’m looking forward to sharing part 2 with you as well.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. The Problems With The Cross of Jesus (part 2) | Jamal Jivanjee - March 17, 2014

    [...] can be equally as helpful, if not more.  If you haven’t yet read part 1, please read that HERE before reading the rest of this post. [...]

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