“Identification?” This is what I hear when traveling overseas. Really, I am being asked, “What country is your home? Where is the proof?” Or, “What is your identity?” For my international friends seeking to stay longer in the US, identity is everything– can make or break a visa, job opportunities or a work permit. Identification alters things…
Right before Lent a message went out to the “People of the cross”– identifying them with foolishness, insult and death. Identification given…
Yet, instead of diminishing, the cross enlarges- coming to the forefront of my thoughts– timely as Easter approaches. Identification with the cross, how it alters things…
Identification received… many years ago and the most shaping thing in my life. I didn’t know the extent of all this at the time. Some things in life are like this. My new identity was marked by a cross. A mark of death became a gift of grace.
A mother and son are baptized together, letting the water speak of their new id– being crucified with Christ and raised up with Him. Their identity changed.
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3
As I sat next to my “team” of boys, I couldn’t help but pray that their identification would claim their present, future, vocation and life– an ambassador’s life The cross alters us.
How can it not?…
A Look at the Cross
The Cross Separates
The cross was set before Jesus as he knowingly and willingly entered Jerusalem. Though they covered Him in praise, He knew He would leave Jerusalem with blood, bruises, thorns, and mockery. The cross separates– who He really was from what others wanted, hoped or distrusted– just a prophet, a teacher or, even a rebellious zealot. In His broken body and death, as He took on my sin, He was separated. His separation for my restoration. Separated for me. Separated for you. Separated even for those who insult the people of the cross.
The cross separates and can be uncomfortable: to some foolish and narrow.
I have been crucified with Christ…
The Cross Costs
The cross was the ultimate humility. The Son of God, quiet before kings and leaders, chooses no defense with his words, actions or authority. His rights were set aside to give me the right to become a child of God. He paid His life for mine… for yours… for those who put Him to death.
It costs. My life forsaken, and His life gained.
It is not longer I who live…
The Cross Gives
The cross was a gift, veiled to human eyes as foolishness, folly, needlessness, and shamefulness. The gift, the Father’s abounding grace and mercy, demonstrating His giving, not demanding, love. The Father gives His Son, the Son gives His life, the Spirit is given as a deposit. God’s gift: an abundant, overflowing gift for us.
…He will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:7
Christ’s love in us– a giving love. Even when we fail, Christ’s perfect gift remains
But Christ lives in me…
The Cross Invites
The cross says, “Come.” All are welcome. No price is to be paid. The invitation is one of welcome– to come, be restored, refreshed and nourished.
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in
abundance. Isaiah 55:2
Thirsty? Come and drink.
Hungry? Come be fed.
Unsatisfied? Come be satisfied.
Unreconciled? Reconciliation is here.
Tired? Be restored.
The life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me….
The Cross-roads: places the Cross Intersects my daily life
Identifying with the Cross alters things. How will the cross intersect my life today?
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20
But often I can live forgetting it, even hiding it..
Some moments I forget my ID. I forget it when I doubt the Father’s love, question my gifting or compare myself with others. I forget when I choose lesser loves and long for the praise of others. When I enter social media and begin to feel like those vacation photos, children’s accomplishments, scads of links, the “fun, carefree” life is the real life, I forget who I really am. When I choose my feelings over faith, I forget.
My life is hidden with Christ, but the cross is not hidden.
Does the Cross make things Uncomfortable?
Identifying with the cross also makes me uncomfortable with myself and the world around me… and I am not just talking about the big things, like violence, senseless murder, abandoned children …
I start to feel uncomfortable with excess, indifference, apathy, self-indulgence and self-promotion. I start to feel uncomfortable with social media and long hours at work or school, and lack of ample, flexible time with my kids. I feel uncomfortable with spending, my words, and my selfishness. Something inside me wants more peace each day, and less anxiety and control.
I feel uncomfortable also with the gospel– really, so little talk with others about the cross. Do I see others as thirsty– who are settling for trickles?
TDo I really believe the cross is a gift of grace: of abundant waters for the thirsty instead of a drip hidden away?
My Identification is an Invitation
Overflow: Who will I invite to the Cross?
I now am the “inviter”–
Come to the Well and drink.
Come to the Doctor and be restored.
Come to the banquet and eat.
Come to the Reconciler and be restored.
Come and find life and live.