I hope this finds you doing well and staying warm 🙂 Things are going well here – busy as usual. I finished teaching Philippians last Friday and was so challenged, as well as blessed, by Jesus’ example of humility, selflessness, and obedience to the will of the Father even to the point of death on a cross.
As I studied for this teaching, I realized that my understanding and perspective of the cross had become commonplace. I had worn cross necklaces, seen crosses in church, sung “thank you for the cross”… Yet it was just a word to me. “The cross” had become almost cliche rather than a reminder of what Jesus had done on the cross and what our response to that should be.
I didn’t think of the cross as being a criminal slave’s death sentence… Maybe if you said “take up your electric chair or your noose or coffin and follow Jesus” I would better grasp the call.
And it’s not just that Jesus humbled himself to be beaten, stripped naked, and die… but WHY he did that. He did it because the world was dead in its sins…because we were separated from God… He did it to bring us back to Himself because we couldn’t make our own way back to Him. He knew what was before him on the cross – in the garden of Gethsemane he said “not my will but yours Father…” He followed the Father’s plan to save the world despite humiliation, despite excruciating pain, despite what would be easier (no cross, no pain). He followed the Plan to the point of death… He finished it because He wanted his children back. He put our best interest before his own… he considered US as more significant than himself… he died in our place. He lived the greatest love story ever…and we’re a part of that.
So the cross reminds us of how Jesus obeyed the Father’s will and plan, despite all opposition and discomfort, to the end (death) because He loved us that much. Because He is a relentless, jealous, and loving God who fights for His children.
What is our response to that?
What does it mean to have the same mind/attitude of Christ? (Phil 2:5) What does it mean to “take up our cross and follow after Jesus”? What does it look like IN OUR LIVES to consider the interests of others alongside our own? Or to consider others as more significant than ourselves? How do I obey to the point of death?? I think that we need to remember that dying to ourselves is what it’s about… because when we die to our own desires, wants, pleasures, and will… we walk in FREEDOM to live for Christ. So… though it’s good to think and ponder about whether you would give your life for Christ at the end of a sword… consider giving your live for him in the everyday. Dying to self is a daily principle!
There are so many opportunities for us to think and act like Jesus every single day… Maybe you’ve been running all day and would like a break but know that someone needs a bit of encouragement. Take that opportunity to put them first. Or maybe you will choose to give up purchasing that play station 3 so you can help someone in need. Maybe it’s that simple.
All the little things we do each day, as we act like our Father, point the world back to Him. We don’t respond as the world, as those who fight for themselves and think only of their own good. WE are citizens not of the world but of HEAVEN! You are the light of the world!!! Point people to God through the way you live your life!! Amen!
And as you pass a cross or hang it around your neck – remember what Jesus did there, remember what your response is to that, and remember that because the cross is empty, the ending to our lives is triumphant!! Jesus gets the victory. So run, fight, and keep perspective as you go through the good times and the bad… with your sole purpose in life being the will of the Father and being a light to the world! Run hard to the finish line!