I Still Need The Cross
We sat around the kitchen table on St. John Street, one of Oxford's historic thoroughfares, late into the evening on a Saturday night. Tim and I entered through the No. 12 Georgian-style stone-faced terraced house, only two doors down from where Oxfordshire-born painter William Turner lived at No 16.
Lyric and I have been studying Turner in school together, so this made the evening even more enchanting. Oxford never fails to delight in history, mystery, and enchantment.
Inside, our friends were waiting; dear friends who we've known only a few short months, but who have already destined themselves to become our lifelong friends. The discussions we share together never disappointment, and usually last late into the night, being broken up only by the necessity of catching the last bus of the night to Cumnor Hill Top, where we live.
Tonight was no exception. It's rare to find souls captured by the cross, I mean really captured. Where the Gospel is simply the Gospel, not "the Gospel AND" whatever the current vogue of the time is. The Gospel in all its simplicity and wonder. The Gospel where Jesus hanging on a tree is enough, because He is enough and only He is enough.
The Song of the Cross
I've been thinking a lot about the cross lately. I am not sure why it does not consume my mind daily, every moment, but I wish it would.
I wish its melody invaded every waking moment, transfixing my gaze from things below to things above.
I wish its lyrics engraved themselves on my mind, transforming my thoughts to His thoughts.
I wish its cadence etched fingerprints on my soul, transferring my longings to those splintered hands. I long for the song of the cross to be my song.
Because the truth is I still need the cross.
I accepted Christ as my Savior at the ripe age of three. Although my toddler mind didn't understand everything, I knew enough to know I needed a Savior. Why do I forget thirtysome years later, that I still need that same Savior?
I need that Savior when I would rather think of my self than give up my time and sit alongside my little artist who is pulling on my sleeve asking me to paint with her. I need that same Man of Sorrows when I am failing to submit to my man just as the church submits to Christ. I need Jesus when I would rather sing my own lyrics than whisper His praise.
In Colossians 2:10 Paul exposes the beauty of the Gospel when he writes, "... and in Him you have been made complete." You lack absolutely nothing. Paul writes this to the Colossian Christians as a supplement to verse nine: "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form". From the fullness of Deity that dwells in Christ comes the infilling of the Colossian Christians. We who bear the name of Christ partake of this same fullness of Christ. It's a mystery, a wonder.
The cross makes us complete in Christ.
I think sometimes, though, I forget this is not a one time thing. I live life as if the cross's work is done in me. But that's not the reality of the cross. Its effect lives on in me; changing me, molding me. The Greek verb in this passage for "made complete" (πεπληρωμένοι) is in the perfect tense, which means that although the action is fully completed it still has continuing results. Once I was made complete in Christ initially through the salvation of the cross that act of completion continues on in my life as a result of the initial act of faith.
I still need the cross.
Daily. Hourly. Every. Single. Minute. I need its completing power to grow me through the old Chris and into a new daughter of the kingdom.
Clinging to the Old Rugged Cross
We were made to live our life clinging to that old rugged cross as if our life depended on it, because quite frankly, it does. It is only in our dying, that we live. It is only the cross that has the power to truly change lives. This is the Gospel. What good is it to throw out a rope if Christ is not on the other end of the line?
We lack nothing when we have the cross. Theologian John Calvin beautifully described this idea of being made complete as "...nothing be wanting in us." In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells to fill us to the full measure of Christ. Christ in us, the hope of glory. Gospel truth.
I can hear a song now louder than life; louder than my life:
When I survey the Wondrous Cross on which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride
It's the song of the cross. The lyrics of the Gospel. A song so alluring that it drowns out even the enchanting Oxford streets at night.