“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. -1 Corinthians 2:14
Without the Spirit’s empowerment I cannot embrace the cross with joy, because the cross is foolishness to me. Walking in the flesh, the cross symbolizes painful sacrifice, suffering and death. I don’t want to suffer and I certainly do not want to die.
In moments such as these I run not only from the cross but also from the cross bearer. I deafen my heart to the Lord because I do not want to hear His call. I blatantly reject His presence. I become defiant and disobedient.
In escaping the suffering of the cross I ultimately suffer. Life apart from Christ is empty, joyless and unfulfilling. I was made for Jesus and it is only in His presence that my soul can rest.
In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” It is easy to hear this call and fail to hear the last part: follow me. We do not carry our cross alone. Jesus comes with us!
Bearing the cross apart from Christ is unbearable, but bearing the cross with Christ is joy and life. All is rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Him and as Matthew 28:20 promises He is with us always—to the very end of the age.
May we be humbled and encouraged that the Lord has come to call not the righteous but sinners. May we freely acknowledge our deficiencies and boldly proclaim that apart from Christ we can do nothing. May we ask for an outpouring of His grace. May the Lord embolden us by His Spirit to comprehend spiritual realities. May the cross appear as it truly is—beautiful—and may we embrace it with joy. May we never separate the cross from the man on the cross. May we abide in Him, and may Christ be glorified as we are crucified by the Spirit.