The cross was the personal signature of God's grace. A public declaration of His love for the sinner, the outcast, and the hungry. A demonstration of unprecedented clarity of his power over death and sin to save to the uttermost. He lifted up the banner of His mercy and in doing so, draws all men unto Himself. A selfless, sacrificial, spotless, sinless offering of Truth.
The cross is the enduring landmark across the landscape of time, testifying of His unconditional compassion for the human race. A long arm to reach into the darkest deep and snatch the soul from the mire of self and sin. The very cross He says to us, "Take up and follow Me..." It is only the scars of this cross in one's soul that gives access into hell to apprehend the treasures out of darkness, 'translating them into the kingdom of His dear Son.'
Without the testimony of the cross there is no recognition in hell, or heaven. This Paul preached, "For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross..." (Col. 1:19&20) To say I am a Christian is not enough. To take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow His life of evangelism and ministry is. When He declared that the things He did we shall do as well, He was not just boasting of our good deeds and great accomplishments. What He was literally saying was, "The things that I have done, the kind of life that I have lived, the blood that I have given, the time that I have expended, you will do too..."
The cross is a life of evangelism. The cross is a life of giving more than you receive, pouring out more than you take in. It is a life of passion. It's caring for the sick and the orphan, it is opening your house to a stranger. It is sheltering the widow and visiting them in their affliction. The life of Jesus kissed the cross. The life of the Christian must make the same embrace of sacrifice and death. To go through the cross with ones dreams and ambitions is to taste and experience His resurrection power, not only in your own life but in the lives of every one you touch. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved it is the power of God..." (1st Cor. 1:18)
The cross is the consummation of all that God is. "For God loved the world so much He gave..." The cross is the smile of God upon a world lost and dying. The cross is the stamp of God's approval on a world that failed. The cross is the heart of God revealed in its blood, guts and glory. The cross is Jesus. With it we shall remind a hell bent world and a jealous grave of the Father's eternal intention for man kind, mercy. With it we shall loose every prisoner from their chains of despair. With it we shall declare to a world that the hand of God still reaches for them though pierced and bleeding. With it we shall brand every lonely heart with His death defying love and set them free.
A power so strong it will melt the heart of the maddened criminal scarred by life's cruelties. Like the thief they will cry out at the sight of the bloody cross, "Remember me!" A power so overwhelming that it will bring the ruthless and thug to their knees in repentance, crying out at His appearance, "Surely this was the Son of God..." The abusive rejected father will melt at the fire of His passion for him, and will bow at this cross with the words, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do..." It is the brutal bloody cross of Calvary that will positively set the captive free! Again He asks, "Have you taken up your cross?"
It is a life less pampered but more powerful. Nights of less sleep but filling many hearts with salvation. Years of toil, but oh the triumph! Less luxury but an abundant life! Painful scars, but the joy of the Holy Ghost! The cross is the trophy of grace that the heart must wear to truly say, "I have kept the faith, I have finished my course..." Let us be champions of the cross! Boldly declaring His act of love to the masses until we hear at the finish, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. I was a stranger and you took Me in. I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me. I was in prison and you came unto Me... (Matthew 25:31-46)
"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ..." (Philippians 3:18)
They were not enemies of Christ so to speak, they were enemies of His cross. His lifestyle and selfless sacrifice. They were foes of the furtherance of the gospel, lovers of self more than lovers of God. O Lord! Give us an army in love with your cross! Passionate for the lost! That will follow you at any cost!
I was walking down the avenue,
It must of been around midnight,
I saw the homeless and the destitute,
They looked at me through dying eyes,
One man asked me for a dollar,
Said he hadn't eaten in three days,
Spends his nights at the Greyhound,
His ticket to misery says "One Way",
In that old man's eyes,
To my great surprise,
Suddenly I saw Jesus!
In His old grizzled hands,
It was hard to understand,
How I could see the nail prints!
In that old man's eyes,
Past life's cheap disguise,
I could see Jesus...
In that old man's hands,
I can finally understand,
How I could see the nail prints...
Chad Taylor 3/28/99
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