every time I look at the cross I see God's faithfulness which has no limits
In the weeks before Easter, Live Life has challenged us to strip out of our lives the things that distract us from the kind of ‘full’ life that Jesus promised us. Now we are at the point of looking back at Lent, and ahead to Good Friday, to the cross of Christ. Does the cross relate to this full life? Or was Live Life just a useful thing to do during Lent?
When Jesus talks about coming to earth so that we might have life to the full (John 10:10), he makes it very clear that the cross has a lot to do with living life. In the next few verses, he talks about laying down his life no less than four times!
Is the full life simply a life ‘laid down’? What would it mean to lay down our lives, every day? When our lives become full of the wrong things, could we become insulated from suffering, from pain and sacrifice, from the cross… but also from life itself?
For many Christians around the world, just calling yourself a Christian requires immense sacrifice: there is no obscuring the cross. We talked to students from the Middle East and North Africa, one context where there is persecution, conflict and uncertainty.
Diana (Palestine) told us that the cross is an integral part of everyday life, as she struggles to deny herself and follow Christ. ‘Those thoughts and desires within me that are not according to the will of Christ, I need to put them on the cross daily, to crucify them and by the strength of the Holy Spirit, receive the power to do what pleases my Lord.’
Zaid (Jordan) thinks that ‘without the cross there is no glory or victory or value. That helps me to realise that the best time to glorify the Lord could be in the most weak and humiliating times of our lives.’
‘The cross and the glory are two sides of a coin,’ says Juwana (Jordan). ‘After Jesus faced the pain and the death, there was great glory and a victory over death and Satan. For us this is what gives us strength: whatever challenges or troubles we're facing, in the end there will be great glory.’
Hani adds, ‘We as Palestinians know what the cross means: it means you live in the midst of the conflict and you are full of confidence in Jesus who was in a situation worse than ours!’ Layali (Palestine) agrees: ‘Under the cross is the place where I should be, where freedom is.’
A student from Tunisia, whom for security reasons we cannot even name, told us, ‘It is not the suffering of Christ in my place which is a source of strength for me in the midst of persecution, but his promise to be with me every day of my life and deliver me whatever happens. The suffering of Christ for me is immeasurable proof of his love to me, which makes me love him in return.’
John (Egypt) also sees love as central to Christ’s death. ‘The Cross shines with all the meanings of love that man could search for in his entire life. Every time I look at the cross I see God's faithfulness which has no limits, I see hope in times of despair, power in weakness, and God's mighty justice. The cross is my life.’
Live Life is almost over. But if John is right, if through the cross we are empowered to be part of God’s mighty justice at work in the world… it’s just beginning and there are challenges ahead!