“The cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough to it for its sparks to fall on us.” -John Stott
“We are disciples only as long as we stand in the shadow of the cross.” -Brennan Manning
The cross is the great leveler of lives.
Levels come in handy. If you need to put up curtains, hang pictures or check the legs of a table, it’s good to have a level. A level speaks truth when we need it. When our son Aidan was little, I was trying to hang some shelves for him. I was in a hurry and I thought I could eyeball it. I thought I could just take a glance at the widow frame and use it for my guide. When I put his toy train on the shelf it simply rolled right off the edge.
Putting a level up make take more time. It may cause us to redo some work. But in the end, the level is right, isn’t it?
Whether we like it or not, true is true, right is right.
And sometimes what we need to hear isn’t what we want to hear. Here are a few truths of the cross that are hard for us to hear:
We don’t want to hear that we are sinners.
We don’t want to hear that our sin was the reason for the cross.
We don’t want to hear that our only hope of standing confidently before God is the cross of Christ.
We don’t want to hear that the shape of the Christian life is a cross.
But true is true. Right is right.
The world around us tells us to be reasonable, not radical; optimistic, not realistic. Is it any wonder that St. Paul would write, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18 ESV)
The cross levels our lives. It topples the idols of self-sufficiency and self-importance. No one swaggers like John Wayne or sneers like Sylvester Stallone at the foot of the cross. If you come to the cross you must walk up the hill of Calvary and come up under it. You look up at it. And it, in the end, covers you with its shadow.
So much is a mystery about the cross. There is so much we don’t know, so many theological questions still remain two-thousand years later. But we do know this –God has been clear on this—we need the cross. We need this level for our lives. More than flattery, we need the truth about ourselves and our God. The cross tells us both.
John the Apostle wrote this about the message of the Gospel: “God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10 (NLT)
The cross is the level of our lives. Will you allow your life to be leveled by the cross and the truth of God it proclaims?
John Stott’s words ring true,“The cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough to it for its sparks to fall on us.”
How we are depends on where we stand.
Draw near enough to the fire of Christ’s love that the sparks may fall on you and set you on fire with love for Him.