A Relevant Cross
April 6, 2012 · by ·
This month, I have the privilege of being part of one of my very favorite publications, Metro Christian Living. MCL is a monthly publication in Jackson, Mississippi, and is full of “real life stories from real people who live and move in a world like yours.” Click the highlighted link to read the entire issue online!
As we enter the Easter weekend, I’d love to share my submission for the “This is My Story” segment with you…thoughts on the cross and how it remains relevant. Perhaps you can relate to “my story”….
Like many born-and-bred Southerners, I grew up going to Sunday School and church faithfully and attended youth group, Bible Studies, and Christian summer camps. I was privileged to be a part of many quality Christian communities over the years. The message of salvation was presented every single week at my home church, and as a 9-year-old, I prayed a prayer of salvation at Twin Lakes Camp. Perhaps you share a similar spiritual history, and perhaps you share the similar story of your faith remaining dormant for years to come…after your salvation experience. My story.
I foolishly believed that other believers in my midst had it all together and that I was a huge disappointment to Jesus. Christianity simply became a nice, socially acceptable addition to my real life lived very separate from Him. And even though I occasionally read the Bible and faithfully attended Christian-y events, there was little to no real impact on my day-to-day living. I suffered silently under the heavy blanket of guilt because I could not “stick with it” for longer than a few days at a time. Perhaps you can relate.
Fast forward to young adulthood. A young woman knocked on the door of my sorority house one day, and I happened to answer the door. A friendship began that God used to change my life forever. We began to meet regularly, she helped me understand that Christianity is an actual relationship with Jesus…a Jesus that was not the angry, disappointed Jesus I envisioned, and I began to read the Bible with new eyes. I was still attending church (because that’s just what you do in the South), but I continued to live my paradoxical life of doing whatever the heck I pleased and calling on God when things weren’t going my way.
While I cannot pinpoint an exact event or experience that happened next, I can tell you that my heart began to shift…and both of the following were simultaneously true: God was pursuing me with a fury; and I was responding ever so slowly. Frankly, I believed that being “all in” with Christianity meant that I would be cashing in for a boring, regulated, very vanilla life. So for several more years, my old lifestyle and habits remained, but that still small voice continued to beckon. Perhaps you know this conflict, and it equals torment.
I did not have the maturity at the time to realize that nearly 20 years of doing life apart from God would take some time to recover from. Trust me, I am just days away from turning 37, and God is still constantly working to “restore what the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25) He sticks with us like that. Remember, he said, “Never will I leave you or forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5) And just to be perfectly clear…my tendency is still to do life on my own. Perhaps yours is, too.
As we celebrate Easter, I am reminded that Jesus’ death on the Cross is not merely a one-time event that ensures my entrance into heaven, but it is a daily, grace-filled offering of freedom and new life. I Corinthians 1:18 says that “the message of the Cross to us who are being saved is the power of God.” Jesus took on all our sin and shame as if it were his, received the punishment that we deserve, died in our place, and made us fully clean and acceptable before the Father. I am keenly aware of my daily, desperate need for this “message of the Cross.”
I don’t know about you, but what a relief the “message of the Cross” is to me! No wonder I struggled so intensely trying to “stick with it!” God does not save us then say, “Now go do your best and give it all ya got!” Quite the contrary! The message of the Cross begs us to rely on Jesus and the power only He can offer. He is alive. He is real. He is relevant. For mamas at home changing diapers, for young college graduates looking for jobs, for singles waiting for a spouse, for dads working to provide, for grieving families, for the elderly couples finishing their last chapters. For each of us. All the time. Perhaps you will revisit the message of the Cross today.