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.