On 27th July 2011, the writer of a great book titled “The Cross of Christ”, John Stott, went to be with his Lord and Saviour. As we give thanks to God for John Stott’s life, it is good to reflect on the cross of Christ and to ask the question how such a gruesome crucifixion could so transform the lives of generations of people so that they are filled with such eternal hope that the world has never been the same since?
Stott in his book looks at how this is so. However it is certainly not possible in this space to summarise his book (there is a copy in our resource centre you can borrow) but it is worthwhile mentioning the chapter titles for the fourth section of his book. The fourth section is all about “Living under the cross”. The chapter titles go like this:
- The Community of Celebration
- Self Understanding and Self Giving
- Loving our Enemies
- Suffering and Glory
Once again, I highly encourage you to read the whole book but what these chapters do is remind us that if we accept what Jesus has done for us on the cross, if we understand grace, then we will be transformed by that grace. In another book he has written called “The Incomparable Christ”, Stott looks at some of the lives that have been transformed by Christ and how they then went on to transform the world we live in today.
Here are some examples of how a proper understanding of the cross of Christ transforms us…
- Can I hold a grudge, or worse, actively hate another person after considering that Jesus died to forgive me because He loves me (and you)?
- Can I persist in selfish behaviour when I recall how selfless Jesus, the Son of God, was in leaving heaven and experiencing hell on the cross instead of me?
- Can I hold out and wait for you to take the initiative in building a broken relationship whilst reading of Jesus’ initiative taking love in going to the cross for me?
- Can I excuse my own sins, even the secret ones, after reflecting on the fact that Jesus had to die in order for my sins to be pardoned?
- Can I be selfish with my money, possessions or time after recalling that the Lord of glory, to whom everything belongs, so willingly gave Himself up for me?
And the list could be continued. Once we realise that Jesus, God the Son, gladly died in our place to bring us back to God, the cross of Christ becomes the most love filled event of human history and therefore qualifies as the only real motive to consume a man or woman for a lifetime.
As the great Chinese Christian leader Watchman Nee once put it: “our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection”.
What a challenge and wonderful opportunity the death of Jesus brings to us.