Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Message Of The Cross

In the times before Martin Luther, the early Christians did not have the printed bible. In our modern age, we not only have the printed bible but we can have so many versions of the bible on our smartphones, tablets and computers. We have such easy and complete access to God's truth. We have God's written Word in our hands. We may memorize verses and keep them in our heads.  But it is an exercise in futility if God’s written and spoken Word does not become a Living Word in our hearts and transform us from inside out. Our problem is not that we don't know the truth - it is that we are not living out the truth. We forget that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

As Christians we profess and preach about agape love but so often we do not practice compassion. Our society is materially rich but we have a famine of love. Jesus gave us a new commandment to love one another as He has loved us. It is a love that comes from Him and is unlimited unlike our human love which is limited. It is only with the love of Christ that we can treat others with compassion and to love ourselves even with our imperfections.

The prophet Jeremiah gave us the following promise of God:

“I will put my teachings inside them, and I will write those teachings on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will each person teach their neighbours  or his relatives by saying, ‘Know the Lord.’ All of them, from the least important, will know me, declares the Lord, “because I will forgive their wickedness and I will no longer hold their sins against them.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to fulfill the above promise. He opened the door for us to have a living relationship with our Heavenly Father so that He may reveal His Truth and Love for us. Jesus came to set us free from authoritarian leadership and to empower us to live authoritative lives that are rooted in His Love. Jesus was crucified by the Pharisees who saw him as a threat to their authoritarian leadership.

Unfortunately, we tend to make the bible our god instead of using it as God’s instrument to draw us to repentance so that we will come to our senses and return home to Him. We add the bible to the work of God instead of letting the bible draw us to the grace of God and awaken us to our self-centeredness and our need for transformation. We use the bible to judge others instead of using it to share the good news of God’s Love.

The message of the cross is not a call to suffering but a promise that we can find joy in suffering because we have Christ in us. The bible is to help us to declare the praise of God and to trust Him for anything. The bible is to remind us to thank God in everything. It is through trust and thanksgiving that our hearts will be filled with the steadfast love of God. We will then be set free from the fear of death and suffering so that we can worship God in spirit and in truth in all circumstances.

The message of the cross is to bring us to God’s throne of grace so that we can hear God speaking to us through His written Word.  Prayer will then become the breath of our life and our life will be our prayer.  We will not study the bible as worldly Christians to seek knowledge and spiritual power. But as the children of God, we will read and reflect on the bible as God’s Love Letter to us – to search for a promise to cherish, a commandment to obey, a warning to heed, a temptation to avoid, a sin to confess or a nugget of wisdom to share. As we do so, we will be led to Christ who is our Living Word, our Light that shines in the dark times of our lives, our Provider in times of need, a Shelter from the storms of life, our King as we live in this fallen world, our Defender in our battle against evil and the Saviour and Lover of our souls. 

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