The Old Rugged Cross? It Will Cost You Everything You Are
Devotional/Discussion THought of the Day:
38 Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. 39 Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it. Matthew 10:38-39 (TEV)
1020 This is the sure way: through humiliation to the Cross; then, from the Cross, with Christ, to the immortal Glory of the Father. (1)
One of the challenges of singing the old “standard” hymns, is tht they can stir our emotions, without our “hearing” the words. The melodies, familiar and having great meaning from the past, stir our soul, cutting through our defenses. But do we simply mouth the words? Do they affect both heart and mind? This mornign, as I looked at my devotions, a hymn beloeved by many came to mind.
“the Old Rugged Cross”
I tried to think of the words, a hymn I’ve played a thousand times, sung even more, in every kind of church. Yet, the words escape me, save the last line – “and exchange it someday for a crown”
I just looked up the lyrics, and they seem to romaticized. A wondrous attraction, this cross of Christ, and our joining Him there? Yes it is where Christ embraced our evil, but it is also where He embraces it, because He embraces us there. Which means the humiliation of realizing our desperate need to be embraced, in order to be cleansed. This taking up the cross, it’s not just the praiseworthy work we do, the sacrifices we make for others, as Christ seves them, through us. It does get these, as we share in the glory of God, as only His children can.
But to go to that cross, to be pulled there perhaps, kicking and screaming, is not easy. It is to realize our own darkness, our own shame – and to let it be nailed there to the cross. To die with it there, no more games, no more self-righteousness, no more my way is best, well at least better than theirs. The cross costs us so much it woudl seem, for what is stripped away there is everything not in in the image of God. Salvation is indeed free – but it is radical in what it takes from us.That humiliation is hard, to open up to God, to confess our sins, to realize He will forgive and cleanse. He is faithful, He is merciful, He is loving. Having died to self, we find it is where reconciliation happens, because we realzie we are broken, needy, sinful, and the glory of God unites us with His death, and yes with the humiliation that comes from realizing it is our own way to know life. Our desires become like HIs, to help others, trapped as we were, to know this life… this incredible life which is different than just existing.
It is walking with God!
Many of us need to see our old ways crucified daily, as we remember our baptism (see Romans 6) and the work God does in us, calling us, cleansing us, healing us. We know it happened – for me 48 years ago on Wednesday. But I need to remember it happened, today. I need to embrace the fact that I needed to die with Christ, and then brought into the presence of God the Father, and welcomed home.
Harsh this cross may seem, hard to endure it is, save one thing. We take it up, with Him.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3607-3608). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.