On Sunday we talked about living in the cross. Here are some of the highlights:
- Being for life means we look at life and value life the way God does.It means we stand against secular principles such as evolution. To believe in evolution is to devalue the life God has given us as men and women created in the image of God.Animals were created by God, but they were not created and given a living soul by the breath of God. Animals were not the ones who were created in the image of God. To bear God’s image is a privilege reserved only for humankind. Nothing else in the created order shares this privilege. Psalm 139 tells us we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Our value isn’t determined by our ethnicity, race or gender; nor by our age, ability or location. It’s our divine membership in the human family that sets each of us apart as sacred.If we believe what the Bible says about us being made in the image of God, we cannot believe we evolve from animals that were not created in the image of God. We cannot evolve from something that does not contain the image of God in it. Does that make sense?
- Sanctity of Life is about protecting, promoting, preserving, and providing life whenever we can.As Jesus died He was giving life in two ways to two different people. To the thief on the cross who heard, “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” Jesus was giving spiritual life, eternal life. To His mother who would mourn His passing and have to find a “new normal” without Him, He was giving quality of life as He asked John, His disciple, to become a surrogate son to His mom. Life flowed from the cross. Life was issued out of sacrifice. As Jesus was dying others were being given life.
- The cross is life.On the cross of sacrifice, Jesus was showing us how we are to live, and it included more than eternal life and quality of life. It included those elements in light of the cross. In other words, Jesus showed us as He died what our mission is. Our mission involves helping others find eternal life and helping others achieve abundant life or a better quality of life through a life of sacrifice.We all want to go to heaven. We all want abundant life, but what about the sacrifice part? What about the sacrificing so that others can experience eternal life and a better quality of life for themselves? Do we stop short if we just make it to the cross, but never pick it up to carry it ourselves? Are we just called to come near to the cross, or is there a cross for us to experience? Do we just make it to the cross to receive forgiveness, or does the cross become our own personal call and mission? Is there a difference between life near the cross and life in the cross? Should the cross become more than a place of conversion? Shouldn’t it become our daily preoccupation?Matthew 16:24: 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.Denying self means living the life of Jesus. It means that our lives are to be spent helping others find life. Following Christ isn’t the same as coming to the cross. Following Christ means picking up a cross. Following Christ means taking on a mission for life, and the mission is life. Following Christ means seeking to take eternal life and abundant life to as many people as possible, even when it isn’t convenient and even when it costs us something.
The Great Commission commands us to talk life and to teach life. Matthew 28:18-20 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.How do we make disciples of all nations and baptize them and teach them to obey everything Jesus commands? When you explain what happened on the cross of Christ you are helping people to find eternal life. When you teach them to live as He commanded, you are helping them have quality of life. Even if a person’s life is characterized by suffering, they can experience quality of life in the midst of their suffering if they are trusting Christ. Why? Because God transforms the bad places into beautiful places. He did it on the cross.We need to teach people to pick up their cross daily and to follow after Jesus. Look at it from Luke’s Gospel in Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.This is the obedience factor that brings the quality of life factor. The best way to teach others to obey God is to do it ourselves! And when we do it is life-giving not only to them, but to us as well. (Look at 2 Corinthians 4)Do we want the life God wants to give us? There is no eternal life without the cross. There is no abundant life without picking up the cross and carrying it daily for ourselves.
The plan to save the world involved a cross. Jesus bore every sin on His cross. The plan to save the world still involves a cross; it is the one you and I choose to pick up daily, that as we live in the cross and live out the cross’s message, others will receive the awesome life God desires to give to them as well.