September 18, 2013

Three Effects of Hanging Out Close to the Cross

Last time I wrote, I promised you I'd be back to share a little about the difference it makes in our life when we hang out close to the cross.  Sorry to have taken so long to return!  I wish I could say it was because I was doing extensive study and editing to make this post just right.  But honestly, it's because I have not figured out where writing is going to fit into life at the moment.  With the move I've been thinking about priorities, how I use my time, etc.  Also, my husband has been very occupied with his new job.  It's a season, and I'm okay with the busyness of it.  But I also hope that I can make myself take the time to be more intentional about writing and sharing with you all what God's putting on my heart.  I've been working on being more disciplined and focused.  Does anyone else feel like they "fight the lazy" all day, like me?

Well, that was all to fill you in a little on why it's so quiet around here.  Now it's time to get back on topic:


What difference does it make in our lives when we hang out close to the cross?
I'll be there are lots of answers to this question.  I'd love to hear each of you respond, because I know I won't exhaust the topic!  I think my short answer would be that hanging out at the foot off the cross keeps me balanced, not thinking so highly of myself and thinking rightly highly of God and others.  That thought will give form to today's blost.*

Hanging out close to the cross makes a difference to how we think about and interact with

God - Remembering, as we do regularly with the sacrament of communion, for example, that the Lord's body was broken and His blood shed for our sin and the sin of the world, transforms the way we interact with God.  We did not participate in the creation of this plan to redeem sinners.  That was all of grace.  God the Father desired that we be able to have relation ship with Him and he went to the necessary extreme to make it possible.  Jesus, in love and obedience to the Father, went through with the plan.

Hanging out close to the cross reminds us how gracious and loving our God is.  Starting there calms our fears.  The cup of wrath has been drunk by Jesus our Lord.  There is no condemnation for those who are clothed in His righteousness.  We can run into the Father's presence and confess our day-to-day sins, rejoice in His goodness, ask for His help, and enjoy His company.  The cross opened the door for a life-giving relationship with our Creator.  Praise God for the cross!

Others - At the foot of the cross, we are all equals.  Gazing at the cross and remembering that Jesus had to die for each and every one of us gives our pride a nice one-two punch.  We are not in competition with our brothers and sisters, we are all desperate for what is offered through Jesus.  The cross reminds me that I am what I am only because of grace.  It's all a gift.  The same goes for others.  So for those who know Christ, we want to encourage them to drink deeply of the hope and life found in Him; and for those who do not yet know Him, we want to share the Good News and invite them to sit at the foot of the cross with us and be transformed.

Hanging out close to the cross reminds us of our testimony and our calling, keeping history and future in perspective, reminding us of what is of first importance in this life.  Petty issues fall into their rightful places at the back of the line, allowing loving God and loving our neighbor move up to the front.  The cross makes a huge difference in how you and I think about and interact with one another.

Our Self - Finally, hanging out at the cross changes how we interact with and think about ourselves.  No longer are we measured by what we do or accomplish, or do not do or do not accomplish.  We find a new identity at the food of the cross.  When we believe in Jesus, we become God's children, members of a new family where faith and repentance are the bedrock and clinging to Christ is the only criteria for acceptance.  Two things happen, then.  One, we think less highly of ourselves because, as I pointed out in the previous post, we are made increasingly aware of how wretched we are.  (Seriously, the longer you walk with God the more He shows you how much you need His forgiveness in Christ.  Rather than feeling more and more great about yourself, you feel daily more thankful that His love and forgiveness are so great!)  The second thing that happens at the cross, related to the first, is that we are set free.  No longer is our worth tied to our self, what we do, say, and produce.  Rather, our worth comes from the bleeding, dying one who gives life through His death.  We can accept our failings, confess our sins, and find forgiveness and hope, for the Lord is in the transformation business.  And it begins at the foot of the cross.

Hanging out close to the cross puts us in our place and sets us free.  Those two seem like they'd be mutually exclusive when I think about them.  But they're not because of the blood of Jesus that was shed on that very cross.  We're reminded, You're a lot worse off than you think you are AND this is the very place to find the remedy and be set free from yourself.

So my encouragement to you today?  Think about and/or read the Easter story and how it relates to you right now.  Sometimes it can feel like this historical event that has little bearing on the crazy things happening around me right now.  But I believe that Scripture tells us it has EVERYTHING to do with the crazy things happening around us right now.

I wish I had the time to include verse references for many of the things I've said in here, but my time is up.  Children are stirring and I'm ready for my second cup of coffee.  I'm not even going to edit (gasp!) so apologies for typos.  Have a lovely day, friends.  May the Lord bless and keep you.

*BLOST is my shortened version of the words blog post, for those who are new here.  :)

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