From The Second Half of the Cross
“That ye put off concerning the former manner of life the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts, And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph. 4:22-24)
The second half of the cross is not that foreign to everyday life experiences. We were created with the innate capacity to experience the second half of the cross, and we see this demonstrated across the spectrum of normal life activities. New parents that bring home their firstborn child learn quickly that their self-will is now secondary to the needs of the baby. The new father, who must still get up for work at 5 o’clock in the morning, must also now take his turns rocking the baby back to sleep every few hours in the middle of the night. Older people at work may knowingly smile in sympathy at the bloodshot eyes of the new father, but no one feels seriously sorry for the plight of the new parents because everyone accepts caring for the baby at all hours of the night as part of the experience of becoming new parents.
The “soccer mom” who sacrifices many hours each day shuttling various children back-and-forth to school and to after-school activities, has for this time-period in her life, her self-will crucified for the development and growth of her children. The young man who goes to a military boot camp gives up all rights to his self-direction and self-management for the time period that he is in basic training, with the goal that after completing this training he will be broken down and remolded into a “lean and mean” fighting soldier.
The young man who decides to become a medical doctor, for the period of years from his late teens to his middle twenties, sacrifices most of his social life to studying hard in college and medical school in order to realize this career choice. All of these examples are every day, common occurrences of people making personal sacrifices for clearly defined future goals. These types of experiences everyone can relate to, and are not that far away from the second half of the cross. They demonstrate our created capacity for self-in-charge to give way to higher and more important priorities.
God is not unprepared for or surprised by the everyday circumstances of life we find ourselves in. It is not some big mistake that is contrary to God’s will that we go to work, buy groceries, pay bills, get married, and raise families. Common everyday events do not prevent us from becoming more holy than we otherwise might become if we did not have all of these seeming distractions. For the Christian believer who has all of their heart, mind, and self-will surrendered to God, and is walking with God through life, God is able to fashion and orchestrate all of life’s events into a cohesive and purposeful direction.
For example, a young Christian wife today who is raising three children, while managing a home and maintaining a marriage, through the daily lessons of the Holy Spirit can learn just as much about love, human nature, and life as the apostle Paul himself. A young man or women that feels that God has given them the ability and desire to become a college professor in a particular subject, but does not have the financial means in their family to realize this dream, can discover through faith that God can make a way through college and graduate school where there seems to be no way, just like the experience of God opening up the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites. Through God and the Holy Spirit we have access to the same faith and trust in God that led to the spectacular life stories in the Bible.
Surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ is not a cop-out on our part. It is not choosing the easy way out of our troubles, or taking a detour around life’s problems by pushing these problems off on God. Surrendering our lives to God and casting our cares upon Him actually allows us to honestly face-up to the issues and challenges of life head-on, with a positive and elevated attitude that eventually achieves victory. A Holy Spirit led adventure of faith through life can only begin after we have stepped down off the throne of our lives and stopped trying to be our own god. This is not a cop-out, but the most sensible and clear-headed realization of the reality of our spiritual condition.
Only the Creator God can compose and orchestrate a genuine walk of faith that entails all of life’s situations and circumstances leading toward a man or woman “in Christ” obtaining a mature, godly character. People, who say that Christians are weak because they rely upon God as a crutch, could not be more misinformed. A genuine journey of faith by definition cannot be “using God as a crutch,” because we are incapable of writing our own long-range, biblical quality life-script containing precisely coordinated and focused lessons of faith. We cannot get outside of ourselves far enough to see, much less assume, the role of God in this particular area of composing and leading an adventure of faith.