Crucified With Christ?

Posted on June 12, 2008. Filed under: Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , , , , , |

In his book titled Cries of the Heart, Ravi Zacharias made this observation regarding our response to the cross of Jesus Christ;

“From this truth follows a very significant personal challenge.  When we come face to face with the cross, we have a choice to make: We either recognize its implications and bring ourselves, our passions, and all that we are, to be crucified with Christ so that we might live within the sound of His voice and the feel of His heart, or we walk away from the cross and live feeling alienated from God.  But this is where the lie comes in – believing that we can be close to the Father without dying to ourselves.  In Christ’s own ministry this was impossible.  We hear so much about “coming to Christ.”  We hear too little of being crucified with Him.  When we come to Him with all of our past baggage, nothing will change if we do not let that old self be crucified.”

What a powerful observation that requires an equally powerful understanding!  Specifically, what does it mean to be “crucified with Christ?”

I recently spoke with a woman in her early seventies who over the years had alienated her children by being abusive.  Rather than judging her, I instead wanted to understand how one of the most critical life relationships – the one between a mother and child, could go so horribly wrong.

When I asked her about her childhood, the gravity of traumatic stories of early and repeated rejection by her own mother was surpassed only by the immediate vividness with which the long ago hurts were being recalled.  In essence, these painful memories were being relived in present day, retold with a level of intensity that would make one feel that they had just happened that very morning.

And it was within this context of personal experience that the framework of her attitude toward her own children was established.  And while studies have clearly demonstrated that patterns of abuse are genrational in nature, what is compelling is the fact that the immediacy of its impact does not dissipate with time.  It may be pushed deep down within the injured physche, and numbed through addictions to destructive behaviors such as alcoholism.  But in the end, this seventy year old plus mother and grandmother became the little hurt girl and rebellious teenager all over again right before my eyes.

What is even more heartrending was her belief that she was too old to do anything about it.  That the situation was irreprabale and irreversable, therby confining her to a life sentance of sadness, regrets and bitterness.  A victim if you will, of circumstances that could not be altered no matter how many times she replayed them within the confining scope of her own limited understanding and perceptions.

And It is precisely at this point in time that the relevancy of Zacharias’ statement regarding the importance of being crucified with Christ is illustrated when he concludes that “when we come to Him with all our past baggage, nothing will change if we do not let that old self be crucified.”

He goes on to say that “something has to die, either the lie to which the feelings are subject, or the truth to which the feelings must conform.  That is at the heart of what must happen in being crucified with Him.”  The lie in this instance is not that the rejection did or did not occur, but the belief that nothing could be done about it in terms of freeing the woman from the shackles that bound her life and shaped her behavior over the years.

A spanish prisoner to her own misguided beliefs and not the past and unalterable actions of a mother who herself was likely the victim of neglect and abuse.  (Note: the story of the spanish prisoner is a compelling one in that it tells of a man who after many, many years in prison one day decided to push open the door of his cell only to find that it had never been locked and that he could have walked out at any time.  How many of us live our lives as prisoners, only seeing life’s tumultuous events through the obfuscated lens of the enemy’s lies?!)

As is so often the case with brilliant insight, the simplicity and real-world practicality of the analogy Zacharias uses in the following paragraph to illustrate what crucification with Christ really involves, will undoubtedly hit home with all readers.

“If you were seated in an airport with your suitcase beside you and you left for a moment to talk to someone else, what would you do if, during your absence, your suitcase was stolen?  You might go over to the desk and ask the agent if he or she could track it down for you.  The answer would most probably be no.  When it was in your charge and you lost it, you would have no recourse with the airline.

If, on the other hand, you had checked it in with the airline and upon arrival at your destination found it was not there, you would have every right to ask the airline’s agent where it was.  He or she would immediately begin a search for your lost luggage.  You see, the airline is only responsible for what you have committed to it.  They are not responsible for what you have not committed to them.”

Rather than nuture and hold onto feelings of hurt, resentment and anger, no matter how justified they may seem based on the circumstances from which they were spawned, to be free the woman would have to “bring her feelings to the cross.”  This is a choice, through God’s wonderful and precious grace, that is always available to us.  It matters not the nature of the offense, nor the time that has passed, the cross calls to each and every one of us to lessen our burden and find peace and rest under the easy yoke of a loving Lord and Savior.

But like the spanish prisoner, we have to “choose” to walk through that door to freedom by truly surrendering our right to feeling hurt and angry.  And thankfully and blessedly, as long as we draw breath on this earth, it is never too late to make this decision.

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