This is part four of our series ‘What is an evangelical?’. You can read the series opener here.
Jesus reimagined the brutal image of the cross through his actions to embody a beautiful symbol of love, redemption and freedom.
The cross is central to my faith as an evangelical Christian.
It is through the cross that my Saviour performed the most selfless act the world has seen and will ever see. This act was countercultural, an alternative narrative to the selfish lives we’re encouraged to live today. When considering big life decisions, we’re expected to practice selfish thoughts, considering what ‘I’ want to do, what’s best for ‘me’ and how ‘I’ will benefit.
Jesus wrote a different script.
When in conversation with the Father, knowing that the most humiliating and excruciating death was before him, Jesus changed his perspective; suddenly he said, “yet not my will, but yours be done.” This shows that the cross is the ultimate manifestation of God’s selfless love for mankind.
The cross reveals to us that our character must be the foundation for our actions. Before sacrificing his life, Jesus consistently demonstrated the idea of servant leadership, an art often lost in the world which we live in today. Our culture is obsessed with power; man craves increasing authority and control. However, in Matthew 20:16 Jesus said, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”, and in Mark 10:45 he says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The words that Jesus taught to those around him became the foundation for his own character which were demonstrated through his actions. He taught that we should seek service and honour instead of power and domination. The love that Jesus revealed to the earth by dying on the cross was an overflow of his character, the greatest expression to reveal that he is Love.
We live in a world full of empty words and promises. Bruno Mars declares, “Darling I’ll still catch a grenade for ya…”.
Lyrics like these are often the foundation for people’s understanding of what love is, only to lead to disappointment and dissatisfaction when they realise that no effort of man could give them the love they desire. Many people are never introduced to the origin of true love and don’t have the understanding that true love required an action. The cross produced the ultimate action of Christ’s love for all, an action that no mere man could encapsulate. As Christians, we need to embrace this love, represent and extend it those around us. There’s a void that needs to be filled in the broken and searching lives that surround us; it’s only the cross that can create this wholeness.
As Christians, it is crucial to our integrity that we embody these symbols of the cross. Our character must be of Christ and representative of his teachings, being prepared to be the last and not the first. Then as God’s word penetrates our heart, mind and soul, we are to then live out accordingly. Instead of just preaching what we believe, it’s time for us as Christians to truly live out the gospel. To live a life of faith, a dangerous life, stepping out in selflessness and service where we clearly need a supernatural hand to guide us. This is what the cross represents. We can, and we must write a different story than the lie that the world is currently being sold. Let’s deal with heart and character, and live and act from that place.
Salvation was made available through the cross to every race, tribe and tongue. So why would we wait to reveal this love to those around us when we can testify for the abundant life that turning to Jesus leads to?
It’s certainly not an easy life, but it is a full life.
I encourage you today to live a life according to the cross. That means living sacrificially, being the last, not the first. Being selfless, not selfish. Being humble and honouring others, instead of taking glory for yourself. If we can incorporate these symbols that the cross represents, and let it infiltrate our hearts and minds, then I believe that through our character and actions people will be drawn to the encounter that we’ve personally had with Jesus.