Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Cross Part 1

Lets start with the big choice.
The Cross or the Throne?

The throne is where you sit now. Lord and master of your heart and mind and body. You do what you want, you say what you want. You answer to no one other than the Law of the Land.
The throne is a plush, gold covered, velvet lined, seat of luxury and power. You were born sitting on it.

The cross is a crude device, made from 2 long rough pieces of wood. No effort has been made to beautify it, no lick of paint, it's an object made for one purpose. To kill whatever comes in contact with it.

That is the big choice.

The first mention of the cross in the Bible is from Jesus. He's talking about the cost of discipleship:

And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
(Matthew 10:38)

and in Luke:

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
(Luke 14:27)

Jesus wants you to go on the cross, allowing Him to take the seat on your throne. You have to allow this willingly by giving up the throne and going to the cross. You go to the cross by accepting Jesus as Lord of your life. As you do this you find that Jesus takes His rightful place as Lord and you find that you are now dead on a cross, crucified with Jesus.
Something I've learned since starting this study is that the cross will not be found by the light hearted. Only those with serious mind and serious heart can find the cross. It's the narrow door, not only does it cause you to lose all as you squeeze through, but for most they don't even see it as they carry on their busy lives.

And he said to all, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
(Luke 9:23)

Jesus talks of this being a daily act. This doesn't mean you have to go through the process of salvation every day by accepting Jesus as Lord of your life. When you have done this once, He is Lord. There is a daily walking through of what you have done though. The flesh, which could maybe translated as the part that still likes sitting on the throne, will rebel at your decision to give up the seat of ruler-ship. It's been used to getting it's own way and want's no other King but itself. It is this fleshly voice that needs to be put in it's place daily. The place of death.

Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
(John 19:19)

This verse has a significance for us too. It is only in death, and death on a cross we will ever truly find out who we are. Just as all who passed could see this was Jesus, the King of the Jews, so when we are crucified with Him, we find out just who we are. Servant of the Most High, Slave to Christ, Friend of God.

He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
(Matthew 27:42)

What was said in mockery nevertheless has truth in it. You cannot save yourself. The one place you can save yourself is on the cross, but as Paul says, this idea is foolish to some:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(I Corinthians 1:18)

How many times are we told the mystery about losing your life to save it? Just a quick search gives me 6 results:

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
(Luke 17:33)

Think of all those self help Guru's, those seminars where someone promises you to become a better person in 3 easy steps. The adverts that show you by buying this product, eating this, wearing that, will improve your life. It's all a lie. It won't work. Only the cross will make it happen.

Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.
(Luke 9:62)

The same is true of those who go to the cross and are then fooled into thinking that another way will save them. To fall for the voice that says, 'do this thing instead, and then we will believe you are serious'. No, it's a one way journey. There is no turning back. Not ever.
I'd just like to expand on this point slightly. You have to count the cost. You have to assess the price being asked. I expect you might have been to meetings where an appeal is given. All eyes are asked to be closed, all heads bowed. It's made as easy and embarrassment free as possible for someone to shyly put their hand half way in the air, just high enough to be seen but not high enough to be noticed by anyone hopefully.
This isn't a good start. This isn't giving the person the right understanding of the cost of their decision. In some ways the decision to follow Christ should be made harder. Not a dip your toe in the water and if it's not to your liking perhaps find a different way to show your nice and good. No, it's a jumping straight in the deep end, knowing you can't swim and your not going to make it up. An abandonment of all that has gone before. No turning back.
I think the easier we make these decisions, in the long run, the harder the task to train the disciple.
You don't have to explain that your money is God's, your time is God's, every decision you make needs to be for God to a person who has given up his life to Jesus so dramatically. They understand already that they and everything they have and are is His.

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