From The Second Half of the Cross
Certainly no one today will be called by God to build an ark to save mankind, or be the father of faith, or part the Red Sea, or receive the Ten Commandments, or resist the prophets of Baal. All of those tasks have already been completed by others. The works that we are called to perform as modern Christians may not be as spectacular yet, but they start at the second half of the cross just the same as for the people of faith in the Bible. It is not the magnitude of the events that occur in our lives that matters, but the quality of our ability to hear His voice in the Spirit, and our willingness to follow His leading through faith and trust like the examples of the people of faith in the Bible. The scope and impact of what God calls us to do is in His hands.
People in our modern culture are conditioned to expect concepts like a biblical adventure of faith to be broken down for them into easy-to-follow 3-step or 5-step plans. But a personal journey of faith with the God who created the universe is not that simplistic. I am not capable of composing and orchestrating my own journey of faith, much less suggesting life-script callings for other people through a simplified 5-step plan.
This is one of the underlying messages of this book. A biblical journey of faith is not an imaginary thing, invented out of our own minds and then projected on to a god that we create. The narrative stories of the people of faith in the Bible are above human invention. If we play throw-and-catch with a baseball with the one true living God, He will catch the ball and throw it back. The God of the Bible exists in reality. Jesus Christ is risen and alive today. Jesus is perfectly capable of leading and guiding us through an unimaginably inventive and fulfilling adventure of faith because He created us.
The reader at this point might ask: “To have a journey of faith do I have to go somewhere? Do I need to sell my house and move my family to Tibet, or to Africa, or to the Amazon rainforest? Should I purchase a megaphone and stand on a city street corner and preach the message of repentance like the prophet Jonah or John the Baptist?”
The answer is that we do not have to physically go anywhere. We are already “there.” God already has this fallen world perfectly engineered to produce sons and daughters of light with transformed characters capable of possessing a “knowledge of good and evil” while freely choosing righteousness over rebellious self-autonomy. If we are in Haran and God wants us to go to Canaan, He will tell us. If we are in Canaan and God wants to craft us into becoming the governor of Egypt during a great famine like Joseph, God will engineer the circumstances to accomplish this.
How then do we as Christians yield and surrender our self-in-charge nature to the Lordship of Christ where it rightfully belongs, and begin living according to the second half of the cross? This starts by praying to God to accept our self-will and begin revealing to us His will for our lives. To honestly and genuinely ask God to crucify our self-wills in favor of His plan for our lives takes commitment and courage. God hears our prayers. God knows our hearts. God knows whether or not we are serious. He knows whether we have the patience, faith, and trust to see it through to the end like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, Peter, and Paul. He knows whether we will accept by faith His power to energize our walk with Him through life.
If we are Spirit-born Christians, we are already on the positive side of the pre-destination issue. The mystery of how God specifically speaks to and calls each person is beyond the scope of this book. We can draw our own conclusions as to the mechanics of God’s enlisting of the people of faith from the narrative stories of the people of faith recorded in the Bible. But it is no small or casual thing to genuinely pray this simple prayer of surrendering ourselves to God. God will hear us, recognize our sincerity, begin to reveal His will to us, and our self-will at some point in time has to fall away in part or in whole to make room for His plan to proceed. This is part of what it means to pick up our cross and to follow Jesus.
The greatest compliment that a Christian can give God is out of a still and quiet spirit to yield the direction and care of our lives in faith into His hands. When we do this, we are acknowledging that God is capable, trustworthy, and has our best interests at heart. We are acknowledging that instead of being rebels in charge of the affairs of our lives, that Jesus Christ should take His rightful place as our Lord and King. The “I did it my way” approach to life does not mix with the second half of the cross approach of making Jesus Christ the Lord and Master of our lives. The first step in beginning the second half of the cross in our lives, therefore, is recognizing this fundamental difference.
In this world it is difficult to bring people to salvation. As in the first century, when Jesus walked the earth, not that many people today want God in their lives. And those people who do accept Jesus Christ, often only want Him in their lives on their terms. The second half of the cross as outlined in this book is not advanced Christianity. The second half of the cross is not radical Christianity. Surrendering and yielding our self-wills to God so that He has the space to begin to work in our lives for our benefit, is basic Christianity. No lasting transformation and deliverance can take place without it.
Forgiveness and cleansing of sin, and the removal of self-reliance from the thrones of our hearts, are two sides of the same gold coin-of-the-realm in the kingdom of God. The Christian always maintains freedom of choice, but defers to the higher and better judgment of God as to how to best go about living this current life. When the Christian elevates the participation of Jesus Christ into our lives above our own self-reliance and self-direction, we allow the supernatural part of the relationship to begin to improve how we think about our moral choices, the quality of the effort that we put into life, the standards that we expect of ourselves, and our desire to please and glorify God in all things.
This transformation also creates within us an unselfish attitude toward other people. We will not only discover the mind of Christ in us, but also the heart of Christ in us. We will discover within us a desire to share with others this same salvation that liberated us from sin, and that transformed us into new people as well. And most importantly, because of the knowledge of the second half of the cross, and the death of self-powered and self-initiated efforts, we will discover that the words of life that we speak, and the examples of God’s love through works of kindness to others, come through the power of the Holy Spirit within us and not our own self-propelled energy. When we ourselves are genuinely transformed into new creatures in Christ, the motivation to share the gospel will come from unselfish love from the heart, rather than through some program fueled by compulsion or a sense of duty.