Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Radical Cross

A. W. Tozer was a very unique man of God.  He saw things like very few man ever did.  Interestingly, he was saved in the attic of his parents after hearing a street preacher leaving work in Akron, Ohio.  After doing some street preaching himself, he was called to pastor a storefront church in West Virginia. Thus began his long and great work of pastor and editor.
Many saw him as a modern-day prophet and he dared many who listened to him to walk the narrow path.  He didn't care which friends he had, those who understood him stood by him.  What should stand out is Aiden Wilson Tozer never had any biblical seminary training.  How did this man learn so much?  Simple: the Holy Spirit and his separation from the world.  Complete and iconic.
In the book "The Radical Cross," the first chapter points out what American Christianity ignores in the attributes of a crucifixion.  We think we see it as a thing of beauty, a shiny garb around our neck or a tattoo on our arm.  We are ignorant of the power of God through the Cross, as noted in 1 Corinthians 1:18.  
It is not the resurrection that we are talking about, this occurred three days later after Jesus was slain.  We need to see the cross for what it truly is, an instrument of death and destruction.  Let me go through briefly what the cross was, how the power of God pertains to it, and how it reflects to Christians.
First, as already said, it is a symbol of death.  Everyone who was sentenced and nailed to it succumbed to it.  It left no one still alive, even the Son of Man.  It had no mercy, no compromise; the only ultimatum it gave to its victims to come off was death.  Once you knew you would be crucified, death was the only option you had on getting off.  
Crucifixion was bloody and gory.  Your friends no longer walked by your side.  They did not want to be affiliated with you anymore.  Even the disciples fled and were nowhere to be seen.  Pain brought from the nails, the stretching of the body by the wood and gravity only added to the eventual demise.  Lastly, also consider where Golgotha was; on a hill for all to see.  It was a sign of humiliation and shame.
How does all of this apply to us?  Interesting that many Christians and pulpits quote Galatians 2:20, where Paul said I have been crucified with Christ, not I but He who lives in me.  Paul also said that as the sufferings of Christ abound in him, so consolation also abound by Christ (2 Corinthians 1:5).
We are not called to be physically crucified.  We are called to crucify the old man (Romans 6) and bury him.  Jesus said no one is worthy to follow him if he does not take up his cross (Matthew 10:38).  Another saying Jesus told was to "deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).  Note what need to do; deny ourselves first, take up our cross, THEN we follow Him. 
We can only have the abundant life what Jesus desires us to have until we sentenced the flesh to death.  Look at Paul went through in following Christ.  Stoned, beaten with rods, flogged, shipwrecked and imprisoned.  All this and he never wavered.  Once the old man was crucified, all that was left was a spiritual man wanted nothing more than to preach Christ crucified and holy solitude with the King.

Sorry to say, the crucifixion of Jesus leads us to the gate but the path requires us to take up our own cross.  The sufferings we will go through, trials, tribulations, mockings; this is the nails to the flesh, for none of the forementioned the flesh wants to endure.  If you love the luxury and freedom in America, all the gadgets and fine living, maybe this is what is keeping you from carrying your cross.

Jeremiah 9:23-24


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