The Incomplete Cross?!

Posted on June 16, 2008. Filed under: Personal Growth and Freedom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

“Guilt is a real experience of life.  But when it remains as just guilt it is compounded by each self-serving effort of irreverence, pride, fear, dismissal of the moral, or the claim of innocence.  Only in the admission of sin is there genuine restoration, because guilt is first a vertical problem before it is a horizontal one.  God is the one who has been violated before humanity has been wronged.  That is why God has the ultimate prerogative to forgive.”

 

From Cries of the Heart

By Ravi Zacharias

 

 

While there is many jewels of insight that can be taken from Ravi Zacharias’ book Cries of the Heart, this one simple paragraph quite simply packs the greatest punch in terms of the human condition.

 

Specifically, it is humanity’s desire to address the horizontal issues of morality while discounting and even ignoring the spiritual elements of right and wrong that poses the greatest threat to true justice, and ultimately salvation.

 

This vertical disconnect, which fails to even recognize let alone humbly acknowledge and yield to God’s divine wisdom and authority is what can be referred to as the incomplete cross.

 

For when the moral aptitude of humanity is the basis for our definition of justice, we forego the eternal and infallible wisdom of our Creator and replace it with a divining rod of popular opinion and mass appeal.

 

One such example is that not so long ago, at least in our collective consciousness, slavery was both legally and socially acceptable in certain societies.  How about the death penalty, which continues to be subject to the vagaries of human nature, vacillating between an “eye for an eye” mentality and an “all life is precious” sentiment.  Since both sides contain elements of biblical principle who is right and who is wrong?  Even proponents of slavery had pointed to the bible as the basis for justifying their actions, perhaps referencing Ephesians 6:5 or Colossians 3:22.

 

Herein of course lies the danger and ultimate ineffectiveness of overriding the spiritual conscience that God gave to all humanity, and choosing instead to rely upon an incomplete or distorted picture of the human heart and its motives.  As a result, we become blind to the immutable laws of sin and forgiveness and a true understanding of the transformation from condemnation to grace.

 

The Mystery of Lawlessness

 

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”

 

2 Thessalonians 2:7 (NASB)

 

Thessalonians, and in particular Chapter 2, paints an interesting picture in that while it cautions the reader regarding the appearance of the antichrist, it also refers to the “deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.”

 

The above reference to scripture is not intended to deliver a fire and brimstone dissertation associated with the final days foretold in the bible (that is a discussion for another day).  It is instead intended to demonstrate the vulnerability of an unrepentant heart in terms of being deceived.

 

For it is only through God’s grace, in which we recognize the vertical nature and relationship of the cross that our eyes are opened to actual truth and righteousness.  All human efforts outside of the miracle of the cross separates us from God’s grace and subjects one to what Thessalonians 2:11 (NASB)  called the “deluding influence, so that they will believe what is false.”

 

And even within the community of Christianity we must be wary of the prejudicial pendulum that swings freely when we choose to “humanize” Godly standards by our own definition of what is right and wrong.

 

This point is clearly emphasized in Titus 3:9 which admonishes us to “avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless” (NKJV).

 

The Mystery of Faith

 

1 Timothy 3:9 talks about “holding the mystery of faith with a pure conscience.”  And it is in the faithful surrender to the all knowing, and all loving grace of God that justice, while at times a mystery given human predilections, attains the eternal values that in the end we so desperately seek, yet on our own accord never really find.

 

While the bible serves as the instruction manual for life, or as evangelist Sheri Rose Shepherd put it, Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, we do need to recognize a simple truth, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23, KJV).   And in acknowledging our own fallibility, and God’s absolute authority as Creator of the universe, we must then yield to the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit.

 

To do this however, we must first be willing to set aside our prideful desire for self-determination.  So in the end it really becomes an issue of pride, and our belief in our own ability to discern outside of the pure and loving light of God, that is ultimately the real obstacle to justice and truth.

 

Pride, which led to the downfall of Lucifer.  Pride to which Thomas Aquinas said the following:

 

“In order to overcome pride, God punishes certain men by allowing them to fall into sins of the flesh which though they be less grievous are more evidently shameful . . . From this indeed, the gravity of pride is made manifest.  For just as a wise physician in order to cure a worse disease allows the patient to contract one that is less dangerous, so the sin of pride is shown to be more grievous by the very fact that as a remedy, God allows men to fall into other sins.”

 

The recent tribulations of corporate titans such as Conrad Black, Martha Stewart and Bernard Ebbers to name just a few perhaps come to mind at this time.

 

Make no mistake however, and in accordance with Romans 3:23, we are all guilty.  So while we may shake our head in disbelief at the level of abject greed and corporate malfeasance that originally had their root in a belief of entitlement and an attitude of pride, the truth is we are either the good thief or the bad thief referred to in Ron Corcoran’s book “Jesus, Remember Me.” (Note: refer to the April 2, 2008 Light of Love post titled “Joseph Matros – The Sacraments and Personal Spirituality,” for additional insight into the story of the good thief and the bad thief analogy.)

 

The one defining difference is that as did the good thief, we too must acknowledge our brokenness to God, and seek both His forgiveness and redemption through accepting His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ as Lord.

 

If you are a non-believer, coming to the cross is the first step towards justification and redemption.  If you are a Christian, accepting the totality of the cross is essential to victorious living.  The latter can be more daunting as it requires the admission, without excuse, of our continuing “lostness” in a complex world, even though we have previously come to the alter of acceptance.

 

In either instance, the attainment of true justice and the absolution of guilt can only be achieved through the cross.

 

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