I have been co-crucified with Christ; I live no more, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the Son of God’s faithfulness, the One loving me and giving Himself up on my behalf. (Galatians 2:20)
St. Paul took very seriously that we who have been baptized into Christ have died with Him (Romans 6:8, Colossians 3:3). St. Paul says we have been co-crucified with Christ – we experience his death on the cross in our own lives, and we die with Him on the cross. And if we have died with Him, then we have died and we live no more. It is now Christ who lives in me, so I should make decisions that are the decisions that Christ Himself would make. I should no longer think about myself and what I want but I should be ever mindful of Christ and what He wants.
Thus the power of the Cross is that it helps us to live Christ’s life, and to do the things that Christ would have us do. It involves self denial because “I” (my “self”) has died and has no more needs but to serve Christ. If I’m dead to the world, I make no more claims on the world, and I don’t let the world become my focus. Being co-crucified with Christ changes my entire relationship to the world, and limits of the value of this world to me.
The Cross of Christ is also a great paradox for us for many reasons. So is the Exaltation of the Cross – for it is a Great Feast of the Church which is kept as a strict fast day. Here are other ways in which the Cross of Christ remains a paradox for us:
The Cross of Christ is both an instrument of torture and death, and yet it is life giving.
It is a sign of judgment and of forgiveness.
A sign of human hatred, and yet of God’s love.
A sign of humanity’s judgment of God, and of God’s judgment of humanity.
A sign of defeat, and yet of God’s victory.
A tool of human suffering and torment, yet it brings about healing to those tormented by sin.
A sign of humanity’s rejection of God, and God’s being reconciled with us.
It is a sign of evil triumphing over God, and yet it is God’s victory over evil and death.
A sign of the death of God, and the total annihilation of death.
It is an ultimate instrument of human torture and the ultimate sign of God’s love for humanity.
The eternal and all powerful God’s greatness and glory are revealed in the weakness and shameful suffering on the Cross.
Christ was not ashamed to die on the cross for you and me – despite the fact that we are sinners and even despite the fact that we had not even repented of sin before He died for us. Therefore, we should not be ashamed to take up the cross and to follow Christ. We hold up our cross to show the world that we believe in Christ and are willing to die with Him and for Him. We make the sign of the cross when we pray or before we eat to remind ourselves of God’s love and power in our lives. We can wear a cross to remind ourselves that we have taken up the cross to follow Christ.
We spend a great deal of our time and resources to pursue pleasure, luxury, ease, the path of least resistance, easy street. We try to avoid the cross even though as Christians we have professed a willingness to die with Him, to die to our self in order to loved and follow Christ.
The Cross is where God reveals the greatness of His Love, a love which overcomes everything including sin, suffering and death.