In the penultimate part of our series focusing on different dimensions of the cross, today we come to some more vital functions of the cross in our lives…
“Cross bears those who bear the Cross,” observed the wise Sadhu Sundar Singh. And why not? Don’t we cling to the indwelling, joyous Holy Spirit for sustenance in the wake of purifying painful experiences that come our way? (Ahh! the Holy Spirit comes into the picture now…He has to come into the picture at one stage or anotherwhen we are speaking about the Christian life…Boy without Him, there is no Christian life in the first place — See Rom 8:9).
Mind you, where there is the presence of the Lord, there is that indescribable joy, and where that Heavenly joy is, the kind that is not dependent at all on favourable circumstances, there is that strength of the Lord to strengthen our inner man to carry the Cross (See Psalm 16:11/Nehemiah 8:10/1 Peter 1:7-8/Romans 15:13/Eph 3:16).
When I observe that Christian character gets built only in the rarefied atmosphere, as it were, of “pressure outside and pleasure inside”, thiswould make sense only to the faithful Christians who have faithfully carried the Cross for many years with the inner strengthening of the Lord.
Sadly some of us attribute thepower of God to awe-inspiring miracles, like the parting of the Red sea or theraising of the dead, without realizing that it is this same powerthat is equipping us also to faithfullycarry the cross. It is not out of place to quote the following Scripture portions verbatim to underscore the point that the words, “God’s grace and His power” have also been used interchangeably in the Bible…
“And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33 ESV)
“…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9 ESV)
Says Joni Earekson Tada, a quadriplegic (paralyzed from the neck downwards and confined to a wheelchair for 50 years now) and a “great” Servant of God who preaches very effectively not only through lip but also through her life itself…
“He has chosen not to heal me, but to hold me. The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace! My wheelchair was the key to seeing all this happen–especially since God’s power always shows up best in weakness…”
If there is one word to describe the on-going covenantal relationship between our Heavenly Father and us, it is love. Period! And if there is one activity that silently conveys the message to our Heavenly Father that we deeply love Him, 24/7, then it is consistent cross-bearing without complaining. No, not even praying or Bible reading or fellowshipping, though they are good in themselves and even strengthen us to bear the Cross. However they cannot be carried out 24/7. Theycan perhaps be “accomplished” even by some determined “Pharisaical Christians” for a period; but Cross-bearing is a different ball game altogether. It is possible only when we love the Lord.
By the same token, when the Lord places His joyous Holy Spirit in our hearts 24/7 to strengthen us to bear the cross, He also signals to us silently the message: “My Child, I love you” (See 1 John 1:3/1 John 4:16) in unmistakable terms. So you see, if we are bearing the Cross without any bitterness, and our Heavenly Father strengthens us with His ethereal joy, 24/7, the message of “I love you” keeps criss-crossing between the Father and His children!
Prayer: Father, continue to grant us Thy grace to bear ourcrosses whereby we are able to demonstrate to everyone concerned, including the watching World around us, “How much we love You”. 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.)