Since my humble start in the Baptist faith in 1967 I have heard of the cross. The cross of Christ. That instrument of death that the Romans used to crucify our Lord. The symbol of the Christian faith. I memorized verses like Luke 9:23 which says, "And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." And Galations 2:20 (one of my favorites) "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (both NASB). The cross has always, until recently, been something associated with the death of Christ and, in a small way, something I was supposed to "carry".
Over a year ago God began a total 'deconstruction' of my life. Although I had been pursuing Him, the cross had yet to be a reality in my life. To make a very long and complicated story short, He took everything that I held most dear in my life and made it worse than anything I could have imagined - and I have a very vivid imagination. Christ, at that point, took me to His cross to see the price He paid my sin so that I could see that I could no longer refuse forgiveness to others for sins against me. My pride had to die - be placed on the cross to bleed out slowly. Only, my pride did not want to die. I discovered that it would get down off the cross every morning and in the midst of any circumstance someone or something did not go my way. That pesky pride needed to be continuously re-nailed to that cross.
As I started meeting with an organic expression of the Lord in Dallas in February of 2012, Christ began to reveal more and more of Himself to me through His body. Connected now to hundreds of like-minded followers of Christ across the country, and even the world, I see more and more of Him all the time. He has also started revealing more things in me that need to join my pride on the cross.
One of the first things He showed me was my agenda. I wanted to see an organic expression started in my city. I knew (in my own mind) that I would never be able to get a worker to come to the small town of Terrell, TX, so I joined with this larger group of people in Dallas where I was certain we could get a worker to come - and we did. Then, the living arrangements we had for them cratered and they ended up coming to stay with us for 4 months - in Terrell, TX! During the course of growing together with the assembly (ekklesia) in Dallas, God took from me that which I wanted (a church in Terrell) and replaced it with an uncontrollable desire to be with the saints in Dallas - that which He wanted. Something great came from my agenda dying on the cross. By the way, that one just died - has not revived itself to jump down from the cross and push itself on others.
That's just one example. There have been may other things that have made their way down the Via Dolorosa to find their ultimate demise on that old rugged cross and still many other things, I am sure, that will have to make their way there, as well.
I look back to Gethsemane at the prayer that Christ prayed in the garden - "And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt 26:39 NASB) It seems that Jesus had a different will than that of His Father in this instance. Faced with the prospect of dying the most horrific physical death imaginable, Jesus said, "That's not what I really want to do". But, then He did something to set an example and standard for His body- He relinquished His will to do the will of His Father. His will (Christ) at that time was to live and not do the whole cross thing. But He took His will and willingly laid it down on that cross and allowed a Roman soldier to drive nails through it to hold it to the cross. He did not have the strength or ability to nail Himself to the cross - He allowed others to gladly do it for Him.
I find this to be the case all to often in Christian circles today - there are so many who will gladly take up a hammer and spike to crucify others to make their point or to advance their agenda. The Romans were trying to squelch an apparent Jewish uprising. Today, anytime someone in the church doesn't get their way they feel the need to make someone pay and the cross, after all, has always been an effective method of making someone pay. Many times, I have found that God will use people, such as this, to aide me in getting certain things "nailed to my cross" as He sees fit. On the same hand, I do not see this as justification for myself, or anyone else to heartlessly drag a brother or sister to be crucified on a cross not of their choosing because we think they need to die to something we don't agree with.
The cross. For Christ is was a choice that He made because He saw past the cross to His bride - the church, the Ekklesia. For me it is a choice that I must make because I can now look past the cross also to see - to be part of - His bride.
The cross. Not just for criminals and our Savior. For all those who desire to be one with Him, sharing in His death so that we may share in His life everlasting!