Last week I shared a question from God’s Best For My Life by Lloyd John Ogilvie. On March 21st Ogilvie asks, “What difference does it make to you that Christ was crucified?”
In other words, how would you put into words what the cross means to you?
I hope you’ve had an opportunity to ponder this powerful question. It’s a question that requires deep thought, intentional reflection, and a blending of intellectual understanding with experiential wisdom.
Allow me to share my thoughts, as I hope you will share your thoughts as well below in the comments.
My icing on the cake answer to the question what difference does it make that Christ was crucified is that it makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE! Christ crucified changes everything. But that’s just the icing. And who doesn’t like icing? Yet there is a whole cake underneath this sweet covering, so let’s dig in layer by layer, slice by slice.
As I visualize Christ crucified, or the cross, I see FULFILLMENT. Fulfillment of God’s Law, and fulfillment of God’s plan for redemption. “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4 NIV)
As a believer living on this side of the cross, my life is fulfilled, or made complete, by the One who fulfilled my ransom, my sin debt, and redeems my soul. Christ Himself fills the void created by my fears, doubts and insecurities. When I “put on Christ” and his robe of right relationship with the Father, I am the prodigal returned home, hungry for cake and icing.
As I place myself at the foot of the cross, I hear FORGIVENESS. Forgiveness of sin, and forgiveness for my powerlessness over my sin. “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”” (Luke 23:34 NIV)
I believe forgiveness marks the path to holiness, because forgiveness requires daily repentance. If we are being honest, we must daily forgive God, ourselves, and one another for not living up to our expectations. All our negative thoughts and emotions, such as anger, bitterness, frustration, and apathy, are released from our spirits like a herd of wild boar when we loosen our grip on the gate of forgiveness.
As I reflect on my journey to the cross and beyond, I taste FREEDOM. Freedom from the power of sin and evil, and freedom from sin’s scars, namely guilt and shame. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23 NIV)
Freedom from sin equals slavery to God. Maybe that sounds as confusing as Common Core math, but being a slave to God equals living in His Will. Living in God’s Will equals a taste of heaven and ushering in His Kingdom, the most liberating place in the universe. Freedom in Christ means putting aside the “shoulds” and the “ought to” and daily walking in step with the Spirit.
As I experience the presence of Christ in me each day, I can feel and embrace the transFORMATION. The spiritual “trans” or changing of me and the Spirit-led “formation” of Christ in me. “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20 NIV)
Without the crucifixion there is no resurrection. And resurrection brings the promise of new life and the birthing of spiritual oneness with Christ. Scripture says it best. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 ESV) “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27b ESV)
What difference does it make to you that Christ was crucified? I will leave you with the words of Paul from the Message . . .
“What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.” (Galatians 2:19-21 MSG)
Christ crucified makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE. Enjoy the cake and icing! I welcome your crumbs and comments.