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The Shadow of The Cross

There is a shadow where there is no darkness. There is a shadow where darkness flees in terror. There is a shadow that is not a place of greater darkness, but a place brighter than then thousand suns. This shadow is the shadow of the Cross.

The burning issue in your life is not employment, the government or governmental actions, the economy, money, or taxes. The burning issue in your life is not whether there will be a depression or recession, who is in power or who is not. The greatest issue in your life is whether you fully understand and fully accept Christ and His sacrifice for you on the Cross. When human beings gather at the Cross, differences between us melt away. What you think is important to you today begins to fade away when you see Christ in such terrible agony upon the Cross. Even your sufferings of the present moment are of little importance because His suffering gives you a way to see into a future time when your suffering is replaced with joy.

At the Cross, your head can be bowed low in the defeat of your present circumstances but you are still immersed in victory over death. At the Cross, your life can be overwhelmed with all kinds of concerns and difficulties but the power of His love overwhelms all concerns and difficulties. At the Cross, concerns or difficulties cannot survive when you kneel before Him. At the Cross, His love is so forceful you cannot carry your burdens very close to the Cross without seeing them disappear. At the Cross, anger that has built up in you for years melts away in an instant. Misunderstandings over matters you find vital melt away. At the Cross, frustrations with relationships, jobs, family concerns, and opportunities unrealized melt away. All this happens because Love has a way of vaporizing what you believe is so important. That is the full meaning of the Cross…Love. Christ went to the Cross because He loves you. He loves you in particular. He loves you when you ignore Him. He loves you when you run away from Him. He loves you when you don't love Him. He loves you even when you don't want Him to love you.

Most people believe that what is expressed in these paragraphs about the Cross and Christ's power of love is some kind of radical or fanatical idea. Here is what most people find so radical or fanatical…that Christ's suffering and death on the Cross is still dramatically touching people two thousand years later. What so many do not understand and will not accept is the transforming power of Christ is still in effect and is still working today. At the Cross, this supernatural transforming power turns what is important to you into the unimportant. At the Cross, what is important to you today loses its importance when you come to the Cross and see your Savior bleeding and dying for you.

Worldly powers and influences minimize, deny, or reject this transformational reality of the Cross. Worldly powers and worldly influences do not want to be transformed by the supernatural power of the Cross. Every worldly influence must minimize, deny, or reject the idea that Christ's suffering on the Cross connects to human hearts and lives. The worldly powers must minimize, deny, or reject the importance of Christ on the Cross because when all things are put before Christ on the Cross, there is a great sorting out of priorities. The world of unbelief, the world of darkness, and the secular world does not want to stand before the Cross and undergo an automatic sorting out of priorities. Neither do most people want to stand before the Cross because to stand before Christ who is God made into man tears away every pretense and every excuse not to believe and accept Him. When you stand before Christ who is dying for you, then every ungodly belief and every ungodly value within you disappears. At the Cross, every sinful thought, every sinful deed, every selfish motive, all are exposed to a force of annihilation called Love for which there is no defense.

When you stand at the Cross and begin to comprehend Christ's suffering, you cannot stand for long, for you must collapse on your knees. You must collapse from the weight of your sins and your guilt. It is much like Moses wanting to see God. Moses was only permitted to see Him moving away because of His brilliant love. At the Cross, you are permitted to see Him in the most horrible of circumstances, yet there is the sin in a person's soul that screams out not to look. Sin knows that it cannot look at Him and survive.

Whatever differences anyone else has on this planet with anyone else be they Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Blacks, Whites, Arabs, Russians, aborigines, or John Doe on the street, there are no differences at the Cross. The shadow of the Cross descends over every person, every country, every city, and every family. You can run from this shadow but you cannot run fast enough to escape it. The world, for the most part, pretends the Cross does not exist. The world keeps pretending because sin cannot coexist with Christ's love.

If there was ever a time in the world when you should kneel before His laser-like power of love and redemption from the Cross, it is now. In your personal life, you face the consequences of catastrophes in the world that are human in origin and for which there seems no human fix.

As much as you want to paint a great picture of how wonderful things are in your life, you know you are but just a breath away from death. Every person faces death that can occur at any moment. You may not be able to stand the horrible thought that death can be so close. However, the great shadow of the Cross is not the shadow of death. The shadow of the Cross is a remarkable shadow of Life. The shadow of the Cross is not a shadow at all for the shadow of the Cross is a transforming Light that gives love, grace, wisdom, and everlasting life. In this shadow that is not a shadow, you can find eternal life if you will but look up at Him who is breathing His last breath just for you. You may be afraid to look up at Him. You may have multitudes of excuses and have bins full of issues at the ready to avoid any real look at Christ dying just for you. Do not be afraid, for He loves you.

The shadow of the Cross hangs over His church. Every great work in the church has stresses and strains that can rip apart His precious work on earth. A choir practice time is changed and someone gets bent out of shape. A church committee votes to go ahead on some task and someone violently disagrees. A church authority issues an opinion or edict that sets off an explosion among the laity. All these matters within the church are matters that seem important but are not important because the Cross is being ignored.

Yes, there are day to day activities that bug you half to death, but when you finish your work at the end of the day, all things should melt away in His glory and grace. In His love at the Cross, committee meetings carry no importance. In His love at the Cross, matters that cause explosions of anger and outrage cannot exist. In the glory and grace that shines down from His Cross, your ego becomes humble contrition caused by a melting heart. It is this melting of the heart from His love that so frightens away the doubter, the disbeliever, the sinner, and the disagreeable. A melting heart cannot disagree, it cannot rail against old wrongs, it cannot shoot bullets and it cannot launch missiles.

In the shadow of your Savior's suffering on the Cross, you experience a darkness of shame that amazingly transforms you as you surrender your life to Him. As you bow before Him in sorrow, your darkness of shame is cast away from you as He speaks the words "forgive them" to His Father and your Father in Heaven.

Your world will end some day. Perhaps some day soon all that you know and all that you cherish will disappear. Yet, because He was willing to die for you then you know that this present world is not your real home. You know that just beyond the floating clouds there awaits for you another beautiful and marvelous world. You know that when the last trumpet sounds there will be a transformation for you. You know that your decrepit old body here on earth will be transformed into an everlasting new body full of His Light and His Love.

Question: So what difference does anything make? Answer: Nothing makes any difference as you gaze at His sacrifice on the Cross. In Christ, there are no differences. When you see Christ on the Cross, there are no burning issues. At the Cross, anger, bitterness, and inner turmoil disappear. At the Cross, there is only a prevailing love that shuts down the anger of the heart. At the Cross, you are joined in a unity of awe and worship for Him. At the Cross, you are truly one in the bond of love.

 

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018