Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Cross: Where idols go to die and joy finds life.

"But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Galatians 6:14).

“That which the average roman citizen regarded as an object of shame, disgrace and even disgust was for Paul his pride, boasting and glory…There is no exact equivalent in the English language to kauchaomai. It means to boast in, glory in, trust in, rejoice in, revel in, live for. The object of our boast or ‘glory’ fills our horizons, engrosses our attention, and absorbs our time and energy. In a word, our ‘glory’ is our obsession."
The above quote is from the Cross of Christ by John Stott. As I think about the work that God has been doing in my heart in the last couple of years, it is ultimately aiming to make me glory in and make my life about the cross. I've understood this idea in theory, but I am finally learning what it means in practice. The cross used to be something secondary to me. What I was living for and trusting in was a relationship that I would one day be able to rejoice and revel in to feel like I was finally complete and had all of the blessing that God intended for me. When I was in school what I gloried in more then all else was the hope of a good job, yes the cross was nice, but I was more like to boast in my internship at the Hall of Fame instead of what God has done in my life.

There was about a three month period between when Laura and I met and when we first started courting. People often times ask me why I waited so long, and honestly, it wasn't fear of rejection, but I was finally starting to realize I need to be satisfied in God first or ultimately I will be unsatisfied in a relationship. Being famaliar with the sinfulness of my own heart, I wanted to make sure Christ was firmly planted on the throne before there was the possibility of a rival idol.

John Calvin has aptly described our hears as factories that are constantly producing idols. We are created to worship God, but because of our natural sinful tendencies we often times seek to worship others or often times self. Identifying idols now in this period of engagement is important because if I am not worshipping God then my hope will be placed where it can never be fulfilled and I will be illprepared to lead and love Laura. A downcast and disquieted soul is one that can find no contentment (Psalm 42 and Philippians 4:11) and not only that, but also missing out on Christ purpose for us. Christ came so that we may have love, joy and peace (John 14-16).

Our freedom from idols and foundation for all love, joy and peace is in the cross. Apart from the cross we cannot know love because only at the cross is love truly personified. Without the cross there is no peace because sin puts us at war with God as well as with one another. A life lived before the cross in light of God's grace and mercy is the life defined by joy, all other pursuits in life will rob us of joy because they require our work whereas at the cross God has already done all the work for us. Boasting in the cross isn't boasting for the sake of boasting, but instead, it's boasting because countless blessings flow from it. A boasting outside of the cross leads to endless futile efforts, but boasting in the cross is living for what we were made.

And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:11)

I was created for God and for Him alone. The cross, where I have been reconciled to Him, is my primary source of joy because it has reconciled me to my hearts true longing. Everything else, from jobs to relationships, is a means to glorify Him, but not the end for which my heart was made to delight in.

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