Years ago a friend of mine shared the product of her meditation on the concept of climbing to the proverbial mountain top. She noted how we perceive the mountain top as a point of achievement, some pinnacle that embodies success and worthy of celebration after a long arduous struggle. But then she spoke of how the Holy Spirit drew her to the examples noted in the Bible where sacrifices, including the crucifixion of Christ, occurred on maintain tops, and perhaps how the follower of Christ should rethink the purpose of the mountaintop itself, and the very pursuit thereof. Over the years that discussion has often returned to my mind. The last few days it has once again had me pondering. Here’s the foundation of my thought path.
We know Jesus tell us in Matthew 16:24 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. The Apostle Paul later stated “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” – Gal 5:24. Paul also, in his first letter to the Corinthians, states that “I die daily” (1 Cor 15:31) and later in his second letter to the Corinthian believers seems to unwrap his previous reference when he speaks of the daily work of death in him in 2 Corinthians 4:10-12 “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
So where is my thought path taking me? Where am I going with this? To a crucifixion. Mine to be specific.
In this current Church age of what has been described as “hypergrace” by some, it has become apparent that few Christians now believe there is still a call to holiness. “It’s all good with God”, “You don’t have to bother with the concern for sin anymore” etc. etc. Yet it is clear to me that God does not change, ever. His standards are immutable. Yes the grace He poured out on us through His Son’s blood covers all our sins, including our future sins, but that perfect sacrifice himself, Christ, also made it quite clear that there is a permanent denial of self’s will attached directly to a cross that we are each called to bear, and that cross infers a destination and divine appointment we must intentionally walk toward each day, our own crucifixion.
If Paul is correct, that act of crucifying our flesh (Galatians 5:24) is a daily culmination of dragging our own fleshly desires to our Savior’s cross. Daily we must put our wills against the wood He was lifted up on, and we must drive our own nails with the force necessary to overcome our fear of the pain, until the nails have fully pierced us and are inextricably lodged in His cross. With crucifixion, the death of our will is assumed. And after death comes resurrection. When we submit to this daily dying of our fleshly will, we rise anew free from the bondage of sin’s power to draw us away from our Father’s perfect will, including the bondage born of the fear of crucifixion itself. I’m convinced this is the place Paul had reached in his own walk depicted in Acts 21 while on his return journey to Jerusalem where he knew a cross of sorts awaited him. Why does this act of self crucifixion need to be daily? This is something I’m currently pondering and will perhaps address at a later date. Until then . . .
We are all called, not only to our own private daily crucifixion, but to the position of trust where we must be prepared, like Paul, like our Savior Himself, to be poured out in public sacrifice to God. Still, the eternal consequence, both in ourselves and in those who observe are immeasurable. Paul himself was the beautiful consequence of Stephen’s public sacrifice told in Acts 7. Our first introduction to Stephen in Acts 6 indicates a man who, like Paul later, pursued God in his own heart without the restraint of his own will, and while it does not speak to his (Stephen’s) own process, the details of Paul, our Savior, and the prophets that preceded His arrival all speak of a necessary self isolation and personal death of self will that ultimately culminated in the crucifixion of the perfect sacrifice, Christ himself.
Enough said. It’s time I take my daily walk.
Talon’s Point of the Day is meant to be concise yet thought provoking. If you are impacted feel free to share the point with others, with or without citation.