Paul writes to the Galatians, “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”(6:14) We know what the cross did to Jesus. We know that His atoning sacrifice on the cross means forgiveness and new life for us. But here Paul applies the cross in an even wider sense. “Through which the world has been crucified to me…” he wrote. That is, because Jesus has given us new life, all of the glories, vanities, and enticements that the world has to offer are really pale and meaningless compared to the goodness Jesus offers us in His life and Kingdom. Further, “I have been crucified to the world,” he continued. That is, when temptation attack us we can offer them up to the cross, and leave them there. The cross becomes our way of life, and we can declare with Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”(2:20)
A Christian often finds himself caught in the middle – wanting to show compassion but needing to stand firm on convictions; facing battles in this world, but without using the same weapons the world uses. The life of loving an enemy, turning the other cheek, and washing smelly feet is not an easy one. We are called to loose our life for Christ’s sake in order to find it. This requires a complete change of heart which only God can accomplish within us. The Psalmist prayed, “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”(86:11) To love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ is to live daily facing this contrast between the world, and the life we are called to in Jesus. He, alone, can help us meet this challenge as we seek Him in prayer, and yield to His guiding hand in the circumstances of life.
Yesterday, I complained a bit about the changes that have come about in society disconnecting people from one another. Being older, however, it is easy for me to fall into the “we never done it that way before” mentality, and not see some of the positive things that are happening. The Church, though, has always been in the position of seeking to show the world there is something different in life. This is what got Jesus in trouble with the Pharisees. He wanted them to see the grace of God that all of their laws really intended, but that they were too locked into their system to see. The Church was founded to show the world that there is a new and far better way of life by walking in faith in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the Church has accepted too many of the worlds values, but there I go again complaining. Even so, in God’s Word, and through faith in Christ, we do have something to share that is different and better than anything the normal paths of modern society has to offer. In the love of Christ we can extend a hand of fellowship that really is life changing.
We all seek victory. When we go to war, we are in it for victory. When we watch a sporting event we are rooting for victory. We speak of victory in elections and court cases. We want victory over some bully or unfairness in a system. But where we find our true victory is in Jesus Christ. The Apostle John wrote, “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. “(IJ.5:4) And this victory often makes no sense by worldly standards. I read a recent interview with Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic from age 17, living with chronic pain, and now having received a diagnosis of breast cancer. She has every worldly reason to rail against God, and complain about her life, but she doesn’t. She only speaks of how each trial has brought here closer to Jesus, and what she has learned through His Word. Her life looks like defeat, but in her faith she has overcome the world, and touched the lives of countless others.