Saturday, December 26, 2009

Returning to the Source of our Faith

I have another topic for our consideration.
Again I want to touch on a matter that is at the heart of our being effective as Christians.
Can we look this time at what should be the central resource for us yet we neglect drawing on this divine provision.
We often give heed to its centrality symbolically but rarely draw on its resources in practice.
Some will have guessed that I am referring to… the Cross.
The Cross is much more than a historical event to be remembered, it is a timeless event happening now. God in Jesus subdued every dark power, conquered every sickness, defeated death, disempowered sin, and secured our freedom, at the Cross then, for us now.
This event though spiritual in nature is no less real than the chair we sit on.
We can literally kneel in belief before the Cross and for example, give over our stress, He wants us to have a light burden and an easy yoke.

The key to understand is that Jesus on the Cross experienced our individual struggle and stress for us. If we can receive the truth of this and apply it, our lives will be much easier and the Chemist’s bill much lower. But there is a cost, we may need to pray for brokenness because the Lord detests a proud heart.

Paul spoke of dying daily, taking up the Cross daily. He clearly came back to the sacred hill often and I believe this was a key to his being able to endure extreme hardship.
So often today, hardship is seen as the fruit of a disobedient life, somehow indicating a separation from the blessings of God. We counsel those who struggle, not so much by kneeling together with them and appropriating the grace of God, but rather by encouraging self realisation, self esteem and self help. Many Pastors in fact have been taught to professionally manage their relationships with those in need, as if survival depends on it. In my life I have met few who will offer to kneel with me, and fewer that will weep.

I recall a vision I had about 25 years back. In the vision there was a throng of believers all walking in the same direction with indescribably beautiful music in the heavens overhead. On either side of this company of believers were well meaning officials indicating which way to walk. I was strongly aware that they in fact did not themselves know the way. As we walked there appeared on the horizon a single destination for all of us, you guessed it, it was the cross.

It is a travesty that Jesus went to so much trouble to provide release from all manner of impediments on the Cross, made available conquering power through the Cross, yet we generally seek release and power elsewhere.
Modern Christianity tends to be success orientated, ‘Knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection’ is often taught but the verse goes on… ‘and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death’. Jesus said ‘I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life’.

Paul speaks of a very different ministry than that to which we have become accustomed today, he summarises in this way… “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christs afflictions, for the sake of His body which is the church.”
No one looking for a career in Christianity would be attracted by this job description.
In modernising Christianity, we have departed from the very guts of what it means to walk as Jesus walked, we have substituted for the call of the cross sophisticated methods of Christian service assisted by every electronic aid imaginable.
As a result of this we have a disempowered church.
May the Lord have mercy and bring us back to the cross.

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