The Cross is the central event that makes Christianity relevant and sets it apart from religion. The Cross is not only the means by which we have access and fellowship with God, but it is also symbolic of the struggle in our personal life.
The moment we become a follower of Jesus and tell God that we want to be His servant and do His will, a death process begins in our life. In the midst of the new found joy and love, a struggle ensues. We soon discover that the Christian life is not just about going to heaven when we die. The new struggle is about shedding our self-dependency and self-reliance so we can learn to trust God completely.
As we allow Jesus to control more of our life we discover how our doubt, fear, and unbelief is inconsistent with our new identity in Christ. We begin to realize our effort to measure up in our own strength falls short of God’s requirement for Holiness.
Paul addresses this issue in 2 Corinthians 4. He speaks of us having a “treasure” within ourselves. The treasure is Jesus. God has given us Jesus so that we can manifest His life to our world. In Christ we no longer worry about having to measure up in God’s sight. Our worth, identity and our acceptance by God is all wrapped up in Jesus.
But in order for His life to show through us there must first be a death process. Our self-life must be dealt a death blow. In this passage, Paul gives us a picture of what this death process looks like. He says we are “afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed, but not despairing, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed, always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body”. (Verse 9-10)
It seems as if God allows us to come to the brink of disaster and ruin, but then He delivers us and keeps us from fallen off the cliff. But there is more to it than just being rescued and delivered. God’s intention is greater than showing us His ability to rescue and deliver. The overall purpose is to bring our self-life through a death process. This is the process of the Cross that God uses to push us toward abandonment.
“ For we are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.” (Verses 11-12 NAS)
For years I’ve heard preachers say, “God’s in the midst of all your trouble”. I would think, ok, I want to believe that, but tell me how and why. I couldn’t connect God with my trouble and difficulty. If He was in the middle of it all, then it seemed like a cruel trick to play on His children.
Years later I discovered what God’s purpose is in our struggles. God, in His mercy and love, allows us to come to the end of ourselves. We experience brokenness through our failures and our troubles. It’s through that death process that God deals with our self-centeredness and self-reliance. He then reveals the power and the beauty of Christ’s work in and through us.
The next time problems come your way, remember that God is in the middle of it. Even if your trouble is a result of an unwise decision you made, look for God in the process. Remember, He is allowing this to occur because He is engineering a death process in your life. He desires for you to develop a deeper level of trust and dependence upon Him. He will speak through the event and as a result “the life of Jesus will be manifested in you.”