Two sides of the cross
by Andre Viljoen
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Jesus Christ gave up the glory of heaven to live on earth as a man and to die on the cross in our place so that we might have eternal life.
This is the love side of the cross. The Bible says: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” – 1 John 3:16
It is this reckless love that attracts people to Jesus, and which reassures Christ followers of the true nature of God during times of doubt and trial.
But not everyone receives this message of love. In his book “Spirit-led Evangelism” Che Ahn writes of a war veteran returning from Iraq who listened to a preacher tell how Jesus died for the sins of the world. After the service the veteran told the preacher he was not impressed with Jesus. He said that during recent combat a buddy had jumped on a grenade to save him and other friends — and he was no saint. What made Jesus better than his buddy? The pastor wisely answered: “Your buddy died for you and your friends. But he would never have died for a terrorist. The Bible says that while we were enemies of God , Jesus died for us. That is the difference between your friend and Jesus.”
The other side of the cross invites us to consider the true scale of our sin. Perhaps we never robbed banks. Perhaps we never murdered, raped, maimed or defrauded. Perhaps we led quite respectable lives — better than most. Or perhaps we were drunks or drug addicts. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
The other side of the cross is not impressed with our sin estimates on a scale of one to a hundred. The Bible says we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And that the wages of sin are death and eternal separation from God. The sins of each and every one of us are serious enough to require that the greatest, kindest, most humble man who ever lived — the only man who never sinned — should be tortured to death in our place and enter the despairing darkness of hell on our behalf. Only the innocent blood of Christ, the lamb of God, could pay for our choice to reject and deny the God who made us and made all of creation.
Reckless love. Ruthless sin. Two sides of the cross. What joy to accept the free gift of forgiveness of sin that Jesus bought for each one of us with his precious blood. If you have not received this gift yet, why not do so now? Just acknowledge your sin and tell Jesus that you want to accept his forgiveness and that you want to follow him. Then tell your good news to a Christian person who can help you to advance in the abundant life that Jesus wants you to live.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” – Romans 10:13
(For those interested, this article was first posted on my blog www.amazinglove.co.za on 30th September 2010)
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