Continuing to focus on thedifferent dimensions of the cross, today let’s focus on yet another vital function of the cross in our lives…
“…If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 ESV)
The word “cross”, used in this context, is not the “cross of justification” thatwas our focus last Saturday,but the “Cross” I want to cast my spotlight on is the… “cross of progressive sanctification”. Simply put, it is the purifying pain that ensues thatwe keep God’s glory uppermost, even while keeping our own desires, and sometimes even our legitimate rights, aside (like remaining silent in the face of stark injustice — See 1 Peter 2:18-23). This includes in any area of our lives, be it emotional, financial, physical, social or spiritual.
Our Heavenly Father desires that all those who enter into a covenantal relationship with Him should mature and go on to become like His Son (our Saviour Christ — See 2 Cor 3:18/1 Peter 1:5-11/2 Peter 3:18). Doesn’t our Heavenly Father eventually want to fill Heaven with Jesus-like people (“the Brothers of the Lord and in the Lord”), who having begun the work of already consistently praising Him on this side of Eternity (Heb 2:11-12/Psa 22:22)? As this ought to continue the same on the other side perpetually? Our permanent, fulfilling activity in Heaven would be that of continually praising our Father who is oh-so-worthy of our praises!
Now how do we acquire Christ-like qualities? This all-consuming desire to obey the Father, borne out of His love for Him, His meekness, gentleness, perseverance, patience….? Certainly, not by attending a Bible College for a term (though some good does come out of it)! Let the Scripture take over at this stage…
“…we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope” (Rom. 5:3-4 ESV)
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 ESV)
So Friends, the Cross not only saves, but also shapes us into a Christ-like image. Realization of the truth that a painful cross is, in the long run, actually spiritually beneficial to you,is in itself a liberating experience (SeeJohn 8:32), besides beinga mark of spiritual maturity.
On the flip side, not wanting to bear that cross can lead to seriously painful consequences (See2 Tim 2:12), akin to being shown the door in a college, if one doesn’t submit himself to its course curriculum! Simply put, the Lord would not “carry us”, if we do not faithfullycarry His cross.
Prayer: Father, we submit to thy Sovereign will in our lives. Acknowledging that Your goodness and wisdom are infinite, we know that whatever You permit in our lives is for our own good. Let Thy will be done in our lives at all times. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries
(To access the entire “Do Not be Cross About the Cross” mini-series, please click here.)