It is rightly said that for us to take up our cross and follow Jesus is not to endure trials in and of themselves, but rather a WILLING act on our part to obey and glorify God in bearing the offenses, rejection and wrongs of others with intercessions for them.
As I’ve been faced with a familiar cross lately, God is helping me to see how to bear my cross not with a, “Poor me I’m a rejected Christian…” attitude, but rather with a heart of intercession for the ones that I love.
He’s been teaching me to remember that unlike Jesus, when I take up my cross and follow Him I can’t say I have not sinned or caused damage to others because of my sin. Jesus’ heart of intercession is totally a pure expression of who He is as God. My heart of intercession comes from Jesus dwelling in me and is helped by remembering that my sin required not only the death and suffering of Jesus while He interceded for me and ever lives to do so, but also that my sin has damaged others in this life and that I myself have been like the ones I am hurt by.
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
-Ephesians 2:1-3 NKJV
When we sin we aren’t the only ones to experience the repercussions of that sin. It impacts those around us like a rock thrown in a lake. Seeing this doesn’t make me drown in condemnation, it makes me get on my knees and labor in intercession for the ones in my life that I see going astray, yet realize my own sinful life has in some way contributed to where they are and why they don’t see Jesus for who He is.
Nehemiah and Ezra were used to lead an effort to rebuild the city of God and the wall around Jerusalem and their motivation was to no longer be a reproach to the surrounding nations. They were aware that they, as God’s people, were responsible for how the pagan nations around them viewed their God. They took responsibility for their sinful ways and had a heart that desired others to see the glory of God in their lives (Nehemiah 2:17).
This leads to the ultimate motivation He’s developing in me for interceding for others: Desiring nothing more than for God to be glorified in my life.
When I want others to see Christ through my life more than anything else, more even than I want them to be “converted”, my heart is pure… it’s not polluted with a less than pure motivation. Yes, I want them to be saved! Yes, I want them to see their desperate need for Jesus! But even more than that I want my Jesus to have the glory He deserves in my life in their eyes. Whether on their part they reject the glory that shines on them, or bend their knees to it… only let Jesus be magnified and exemplified in me! This pure desire in me causes me to plead all the more that God would do a work on behalf of these that I love, because I want Him to have glory… even if they reject it!
If, on the other hand, my motivation is only that they be saved and not first that God be glorified, I’m going to get tangled up in trying to appeal to their flesh… trying to make God cool, trying to make Him relevant and digestible. I cheapen the mystery of God when my motivation is a person’s conversion rather than God being magnified on the earth. It’s seeing God for Who He really is (that is seeing His glory) which brings about true repentance and saving faith. This is why the greatest command is that we love God with all that we are FIRST and then SECOND that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Loving God with all our being, desiring to bring Him glory with our lives, does not abandon the souls of those we love around us… for God is THE intercessor. Loving God with all our being, desiring to magnify Him causes us to not condemn those around us but intercede for them.
“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” -John 17:1-4 NKJV
This is the trail the Author of our faith has blazed for us. As He lives in us, this is what He is always compelling us towards: Glorifying the Son in our lives that we might bring the Father glory.
And its to that end that in the process eternal life might be given to those God has given us to take up our crosses for. For after He prayed for the Father to be glorified in Him He said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Desiring to bring God glory with our lives results in those around us being interceded for, and results in God revealing Himself through our broken, earthen vessels to them. What an amazing truth! God chooses to quicken others to eternal life in knowing Who He is and knowing Jesus Christ and He chooses to bring about this knowing through us taking up our crosses and following Jesus.
Oh Father, glorify YOURSELF in my life that I might magnify You in this day, in this home, to my husband and children and around every person I am around, that they might get just a glimpse of Who You are and Who Christ is. Somehow God do this. You are able, I am not! You are the God who gives life to the dead and calls things which are not as though they are. Give life to this body of death that I dwell in. Call me and make me like my Lord Jesus that those around me might smell the aroma of Your presence. Even if it means my crushing. Even if it means my rejection. Magnify Yourself in me. Bring light to those You’ve given me that they might be led to YOU!
So glad He found me ,