NEAR THE CROSS
When I first heard someone urging that I "live near the cross," it seemed strange. The Cross is where a terrible death took place. The Cross is where nearly everyone abandoned Jesus. Why would I want to live in such a place? The reason is that the Cross is the ultimate place of victory, and the nearer we are to the Cross, the closer we are to that triumph. As Isaiah prophesied, and Paul reiterated -- at the Cross "Death is swallowed up in victory" (Isaiah 25:8, 1 Corinthians 15:54).
* Through the punishment inflicted on Jesus, we were forgiven (Isaiah 53:4-5).
* Jesus was wounded at Calvary that we might be healed (Isaiah 53:4-5).
* Through Jesus' death we are able to receive His life (Hebrews 2:9).
* Jesus endured our poverty that we might share His abundance (2 Corinthians 8:9).
* Jesus endured our rejection that we might have His acceptance with the Father (Ephesians 1:5-6).
* Jesus was made a curse that we might enter into blessing (Galatians 3:13).
What came from these exchanges defines the contours of your new life in Christ. Consider each with care, for when your faith is tested, when you doubt, when you struggle in a particular area, you can appropriate all that came forth from Jesus' finished work on the Cross. Jesus left nothing incomplete, nothing to be revisited at a future date.
Still, you might ask, why is it important to live near the Cross? Think of it this way. The Cross is like the headwaters of a river. As the river flows out, it becomes less like the source. It picks up contaminants. It gets muddied. It is less pure. Is this not the problem of much of contemporary "religion"? Through time, neglect, and the influence of human methods, the central message becomes distorted, leaving only a "shadow," not the "substance" (see Colossians 2:17). You need to go back to the Source, and that source is the Cross of Jesus Christ.
How do you live near the cross? Suppose someone offends you. You may not feel the least bit forgiving. You say, "She was the one in the wrong." Or, "He needs to come to me and apologize." But as you come near the Cross you realize you are newly impacted by Jesus' incredible forgiveness towards you when He took the full punishment you deserved. This gives you the capacity to forgive the one who has offended you, regardless of where the fault lies. Even though you may not feel forgiving (that will likely follow), you can, in fact, forgive. You can say, "I forgive my friend." "I forgive my father or my mother." So it is in other areas. Do you feel your life is cursed? At the Cross you realize Jesus actually became a curse for you so you could receive His blessings. Are you struggling with rejection? At the Cross, you encounter His amazing acceptance, even with all you've done wrong, or may do wrong in the future.