Take a second and remember what it was like when you finally were able to call yourself a teenager. Remember how awesome it felt to be able to include yourself in the “cool” class of people? Go back even further and ponder what it was like for your parents to see your birth. What excitement and joy filled their hearts? Now go back even further to the moment your grandparents were born. Keep going back. Further. Further. Go all the way back to Jesus. Isaiah. Jeremiah. Solomon. David. Abraham. Adam. Every one of those men had a beginning.
Now, go back even further before the first man and ponder what it was like before creation. The Eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are still there, enjoying one another in perfect love. As we peer into the everlasting ages past, we come to realize that there never was nothing. Our God had no beginning! He simply was.. As von Balthazzar puts it, let your mind and reel in the ecstasy of non-comprehension.
As Christians, the cross of our Lord Jesus is rightfully the most considered aspect of our faith. So much has been written on the work of the cross, the beauty of the cross, and the wisdom of the cross. However, I’ve been realizing that I have severely neglected “the other side of the coin” when it comes to preaching and teaching about the cross. Not only does the work of Christ on the cross redeem us to God, but the cross demands a response from us as it beckons our flesh into its revulsion and contempt. His cross is an invitation for us into our cross – into the “fellowship of His sufferings”, that we may be “conformed to His death”, so that we may “attain to the resurrection from the dead”. (Philippians 3:10-11)
Paul was not just speaking of some ethereal, spiritual “dark night” or “soul suffering”. He was speaking of real trial, struggle, persecution, and derision in his life. So often Paul found Himself shipwrecked, beaten, hungry, in need, and severely persecuted. But what kept him there was his vision of the worth of his Lord (Philippians 3:8), his hope in the coming resurrection of his body (Philippians 4:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18), and his confidence in God’s plan to restore all things (Romans 8:19-25; Acts 3:21).
In the last post in this short series, I spoke about knowing the details of the story of the cross of Jesus, and how the first barrier in growing in intimacy with Him related to the cross is simply our ignorance. Most Christians know the details of their favorite movie more than they know the details of Christ’s most precious memories as He walked the earth. This very fact is provoking if we truly believe that Christ is our life, our all, and our exceedingly great reward.
Beyond knowledge, however, stands a greater obstacle in our pursuit of intimacy with the Lord around the subject of the cross. Distance plagues us daily. Even when we know the details, the story still can feel two thousand years and six thousand miles away. We probably have often come to the cross in study or in prayer with the gnawing sense that we should be feeling so much within our hearts, yet finding very little movement on the inside.
The solution, I believe, is prayerful, Christ-centered meditation. I’m not talking about some mystic, new age practice. I’m simply talking about conversing with Jesus in prayerful dialog through the narrative...
In my last post, I expressed some of my personal lament for my unfamiliarity with the most memorable events to the Lord Jesus as He walked the earth. The most precious moments that come to His mind often are probably those of His arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Many Christians can recount the details of their favorite movie with more precision than they can the most precious memories of the Lord. If you’re as pained as I am by that fact, you may be asking “well, how do I change that?” I want to take just a couple of more posts on this topic to address the obstacles to enjoying true intimacy and fellowship with Jesus at the Cross.
The first barrier we come up against in truly growing in friendship with Jesus related to the Cross is simply unfamiliarity and ignorance. For most of us, we have only a very superficial knowledge of the events of those three days. We can talk about the general themes and broad strokes of the Passion narrative, but the details of the story elude us simply because of a lack of diligence in study. The solution is as simple as the reason we are foggy on the details; we must devour every...
A few days ago on one of our sets at IHOP-KC, our worship team sang through the drama of the cross of Christ. Beginning at Jesus’ anointing at Bethany, proceeding to the garden of Gethsemane, the beating by the Romans, the march to the cross, and finally ending with an empty tomb, we developed each scene musically and vocally for the two hours of our set.
As we were singing and playing through the story of our Lord’s passion, it struck me how ignorant I was regarding many of the details, sequence, and order of the events of those few days. If Christ is truly my life, my hope, my treasure, and my reward, I had to ask a hard question - why do I not cherish and intimately know the details of some of the most precious moments of my Lord during His life on the earth?
Within our lives, the events that bring us into deep mourning or great joy are often the most significant. They shape our personalities, form our decisions and attitudes, and stand as signposts in our story. These are the moments we replay in our minds, hearts, and conversations with those closest to us.