Blogtext: At the cross, at the cross.

Crosses, one, two and three.

You see them as decorative bling bling in the ears and navels of people, or as  tatoos on various body parts; as signs of office on priests chests and bellies. You see them on mountain tops in the Alps, on church-spires and as worship inducing elements in churches. You see them, and they are perceived in various ways by those who see them. Responses to them include everything from total indifference to veneration, from sheer hatred to deepest respect.

Say "Red Cross" and benign humane Rescue and Aid comes to mind. Say "cross roads" and you intend to speak of choices to be made about how to direct your steps on ongoing journeys. 

Say "Hot Cross Buns" and you have Easter Morning breakfast in view. As a symbol it has a multitude of different meanings to whomever wears it , hates it, loves it or ignores it. It is hotly disputed politically and theologically and is used to crucify men and women to whom the cross and its original meaning is their reason to live. It is their "spes unica" = only hope! And has often been used to effectuate their physical death.

In the wrong place the carrying of a cross is a death warrant. You get killed either for it or on it. In the right place it is the most powerful image in the world. It is your only way to salvation and determines the ultimate condition of being lost. The two aspects go together. They are in fact inseparably connected. How come?

Great men of the christian church have often warned of a future christianity without the cross, of holiness without the Holy Spirit and of preaching without power to change peoples lives. That scenario is no longer in the future, it is here now.

How did it come about to be such a loaded symbol? What gave rise to such a fearful aspect?

Begin the begin.

To understand the cross at all we must start at the first dawn of human existence. All things that now are had a beginning. This is it:

  • Man was made to be in a relationship with His Maker
  • Man was made to be steward and tiller of the ground under his feet 
  • Man was made in two entities called male and female to be together
  • Man was made whole and in harmony with himself, in command of all his facilities.
You might say that as far as his relationships are concerned he has four arms embracing him. Four, just as many as the arms of any cross. The first three are easy to see. The last one is slightly out of sight to us because it is the one closest to us. To attempt an awareness of that fourth embracing harmony is  not unlike trying to be aware of your eye while looking at an object in the room. But we sure know when that harmony is missing. It creates a number of voids  and causes fears and shame in the presence of the Maker and in deed over against the entire creation.

The mankind that "Elohim" made was first 'adam' (of the earth) only but containing all the ingredients of woman in itself. And having found no match for man among all the other living beings in the whole world, God separated out of man that which was to be woman, independent in space but united with him in a myriad ways. The very idea of human marriage is embodied in the twosome unity. With it came a joyful command of sexual reproduction and the population of the whole world with beings all like to Adam's self. While Adam remains in the image of God, it is that image which would be reproduced through them. Then the calamity of sin intrudes and all Adam can do from now on is "bring forth a son in his own image". (Gen 5:1-3) Outside the garden of order (farsi language: paradise) disorder reigns ever since.

To be man and able to communicate with the Maker, the Creator, Owner , Lifegiver and the sole source of understanding for how to live in the new world was the starting point, and it hung in the balance of only one thing. Allowing God to be God and refusing any attempt to try and be God's equal. And most importantly, to consider God's word as the First Opinion to be for ever the measureing rod for every second opinion.

The word obedience is crucial. Was..Is.

Towards the Earth under his feet there was a commanded framework of ruling over, caring for and utilizing what God had made for survival, multiplication and harvesting what produced fruit enough for all living beings to feed on. Man is the "head" of creation, the head in which the Creators rules are placed for the entire created order. Ignore that and all will be destroyed. Global warming is not the cause of calamity, it is only one effect of it. (To think that the singling out of that reality is the critical one is like finding a scratch on your bumper and losing sleep over it when in fact the engine has gone bust and the crankshafts are sticking out of the engineblock.)

In "The greatest story ever told" we see how it all fell apart and why. If you consider the four relationships in which God placed mankind then the similitude of a cross is formed. The vertical part of the cross points to heaven above and the earth below, indeed it is planted in the earth and designated by heaven. And only as long as heaven is allowed to rule can the cross stand in the earth. If it loses its upward thrust it becomes a fallen tree along the face of the earth only.
The horizontal part is above the earth but alongside it. On the right hand side is the relationship to his 'own flesh and blood'. Woman taken out of Adam left the man and became his other self in order to be a dynamic partner for all that which God had made them.

  • To be the walking, talking, thinking, loving and obeying image of the Creator. Together!
  • To be the creative co-worker with God on behalf of all the world and every living being. To have dominion, never to be a slave.
  • To be true 'Adam' together and never allow that they should ever be independent of each other. 
  • To be at peace, not at war.
  • To be God-dependant not selfpropelled

On the left hand of the horizontal bar is our relations
hip to ourselves.
As I said above it is less apparent to ourselves, but of primary importance. Let me try to explain why.

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process?"

"It is not what goes into man by the way of his mouth that makes man unclean, but that which comes out of his heart."

"But when he came to himself, he realised that every servant in his father's house was better off than he, so he said, I will arise and go to my father."

"Oh wretched man that I am! The good I would do, I do not! And the evil I would not, that I do! What is the matter with me? Sin reigns in my body..."

"And as God was walking in the garden in the cooling evening, Adam hid from the Lord. And God said: "Adam where are you?" I was afraid because I am naked."

"My guilt/punishment is to hard for me to bear."

"Love your neighbor as yourself"

Our most critical and universally true dilemma is our lost identity!

God was never lost. Man is. He has lost himself and whatever he finds in life will only add to the lostness until he finds himself, returns to himself and his true being, the child of a Father. Reconciliation, the act of moving out of the way every obstacle that blinds man to his Maker, Redeemer and Restorer begins with this confession: "I have sinned against You and against heaven". Adam could not have sinned unless he first found it in him to become untrue to his own real nature. The image of God does not sin,it has to give room to the progression of sin as seen in James 2:13 "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death."

Sin starts as a temptation to which we chose to accept as a reasonable action to gain something. And, for the record, "the Devil never made you do it" unless you had already become possessed in a real way.

I imagine this conversation between Adam and the Lord:
-How did you come to break faith with me, to transgress an explicit command, to sin and take the fruit that I had forbidden?
-I lost my self to the words of my lovely wife, after all I saw her eating, and she didn't die on the spot, so I thought that I must have misunderstood the First Opinion about the tree.
-Did I make you to listen to your wife on matters that I committed to you? Why do you think, Adam, that a Second Opinion is needed? Was my command so diffuse, so incomprehensible? I said: do not eat! What was it in the word NOT that you did not understand? Was it the N the O or the T?
-Ah, but the wife that You had given me, took and ate and gave to me. How could that be wrong?
-Because I said so.

How are we lost to ourselves? How do we know? 

Which are the main questions that all of mankind constantly battles with? 

Who am I?
What am I?
What am I doing here?
How can I live in this crazy world?

The lack of sufficiently reliable answers is the driving motor  of all psychopharmacology, the root of every mental disorder, the major cause behind every crime. It is the cause of rising costs for dealing with the means of escape from these questuions by the abuse of various substances in the world. It is the driving engine in the entertainment industry, the prime motivator for make up and fashion.

"Adam where are you?" "I hide because I am afraid and naked."  Who told you that you were naked? I became aware of it the moment I lost my true innocent self. Love kept fear at bay. Love gone leaves the field free for self loathing and shame.

I have lost myself. True self is God-self. All that is left by sin is the Ego.

I note in passing that when Moses finally turns aside from his own ways and goes to see what God is doing in the burning bush then he eventually wants to know the name of God. Not unreasonable since his world was filled with things claimed to be gods but who could tell if any of them were worthy to be God? Did they have what it takes to be god at all?

-"What is your name?"
-"I am who I am, remain what I was, and will be what I will be."

Is it not remarkable that our use of the 'I' from cradle to grave is (mis)using the name of God for ourselves? Have we not then made ourselves into gods? And have we then not also broken the first commandment of the law? Indeed we have. That is how lost we are to ourselves until we return to the great "I am". When the lesser is swallowed up by the greater, then the lesser can again become great enough to be a real human.

The first and lost cross is then this four-dimensional cross of our original relationships. It is broken and in every one of the four arms there is a gap between man and the four directions. Broken relationships to God, to the very ground under our feet, to our co-human consorts and to our selves. Read any daily paper, watch any TV news and you will see the truth of our disaster.

Who am I? Either a self with the "great I am" or a lesser ego without the "I am". There are no further options.

The second cross is one we all bear. But you will not find it spoken of as a cross in the scriptures. All the same it is  part and parcel of our daily experience and the shape of the idea is not important except as a way of remembering what it is.  It is the "cross sight" of the weapons aimed at mankind since the beginning. The story told us of the serpent being wiser than anything else and the one who came to Eve with the tempting ideas that God was really shortchanging man by the forbidding of that fruit.  In essence Satan (the accuser) said "God is withholding something GOOD from you! Emancipate yourselves, eat and be free to be God's equals!"

Satan is portrayed as the deceiver of mankind, the killer and liar from the beginning. His lies are so efficient that few people believe that he exists. He denies that God's word is what it says, including any traces of himself, and he is the server of every second opinion that questions the moral uprightness of God. He acts true to his nature and accuses God of being unjust. That is the upward thrust of the second cross image. In so many words: "God is unfair in imposing conditions on your life. You are his slaves! Step out of this childishness and become mature by doing what God forbids."

Read the book of Job and you see the same: God is being accused of being unfair in that he gives man all good things and thereby bribing them into believing in God. "But let me touch the man and all he has and you will soon have him screaming curses at you!"  But not only is there the upward accusation against God, there is also that most insidious accusation of man before God. "That clayish moron called man cannot be good of his own will, he must be selling out his soul, his confessions of loyalty to God in return for '"a pie in the sky when you die". You do not believe in God for God's own sake, but only for what you get from God." (There is at least one other word for it: prosperity gospel.)

"Now have come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; for the accuser of our brothers is cast down, he who accused them before our God day and night!  They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death!" (Rev 12:10-11)
"And in all these things Job sinned not but said, naked I came into this world, naked I go, blessed be God, Yes, though God slay me, yet will I trust Him." (Job 13:15)

The crossbar of the devilish weaponsight are the other two subtle but constant accusations. Listen to the very words: false accusations, slander, bearing false testimony, betrayal, etc etc, they are the more or less elegant covers pulled over what today is called 'fake news'. It is an ongoing process in the entire world, and it it is divisive, inciting to murder and war, it sets brother against brother and nation against nation, ideology against ideology, religion against religion etc since the fall of man. It is not hard to see, but although everyone knows it few understand that it is part of the original strategy of the would be world ruler, the spiritual ISIS power which is said to be the one in whose hand the whole world is presently held captive.

Accusing man before other men. Anybody who does not believe it happens?

But lastly and fourthly, as difficult to define as the relationship of man to himself in the previous cross, there is the inner accuser where I am being accused by myself for all kinds of imagined and real crimes comitted. 

So the four arms of this cross are these:

  • Satan accuses God before man.
  • Satan accuses man before God.
  • Satan accuses man before man.
  • Satan accuses me to myself.

These four directed and unrelenting attacks are the basis of Satans strategy, and they were devised by extreme wisdom of the created order before mankind began to live on the earth. It is such a perfect stratagem that it has never been revamped or reviewed. It is effective to the final degree. The apostles, the emissaries of God, have told us that we must not be ignorant of the Devil's devises. We should know of these strategies and weapons used against us all. But the christians go unarmed into battle, and suffer defeat because they lack the first armor: knowledge of the enemy's devises.

This is the cross we all bear, wether we took it up of our free will or not.

If a man sins before God. He can be forgiven by God.
Break trust with a fellow man and you can be forgiven by them.
But if you are your own accuser and defender, as well as your own judge, who will forgive you then?
And now the clincher: do you blame God for this and that in your life? Have you also joined God's accusers? Will you forgive him?

What? Do we need to forgive God? Not really, no. But if you believe the One who tells lies about God then you will have any number of issues with God the way He actually is. And you cannot committ to someone you do not trust explicitly and implicitly. You see: the second opinion is always accusing God of being unfair, or worse. And once that suspicion is harboured in your mind and heart, your life will show it.

The third cross, the cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow.

"At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
and the burden of my heart rolled away;
It was there by faith I received my sight
and now I am happy all the way."

Arms outstretched, feet and hands fastened to the wood of a cross by hammered nails. Bleeding from the wounds inflicted by crown of thornes and nails one man is readied for death on behalf of and for all men. On a hillside with the look of a scull due to it being part of a sedimentary rock formation with various caves dug into the frontside there were three crosses erected and as the afternoon progressed the three men thus crucified suffered through the agony of that particularly brutal execution.

On the center cross was nailed the body of Jesus Christ. The one cross in a thousand others that stands out as being unique because he who hung there did it on purpose! The thousands of other similar crucifixions were all, without exception, things  the hapless victims would have avoided at all costs. Not so the Christ. "The Son of Man has come to give His life as a ransom for many". 

This was the cross of reconciling what had been broken. It was the only reasonable and effectual answer to the first cross that we started out with in this text. "For it pleased the Father that in Christ all fullness should dwell, and that having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself - by him I say, whether they be things in heaven or o
n earth."Col 1:19-20 

"The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and a day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn."(Isaiah 61:1ff) cp Luke 4:17-21

The third cross in our consideration is at the heart of the very stumbling-block of christian faith.
A crossless faith is not christian. We preach Christ and Him crucified, the power of God to those who will be saved, but a stumbling block to those who do not care for God's remedy to the issues raised by the fall. But the death of Christ is the only door to any rescue operation possible. Because only that perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God "can take away the sins of the World". Only the sinless giving His life on the cross can heal by the same cross that cross of the relationships which was broken in pieces by the sin of the first Adam.

"For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection from the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.... for so it is written: the first man was made a living soul. The last Adam was made a quickening, lifegiving spirit." 1 Cor 15:41-47

So the christian is  someone proclaiming the message of reconciliation, the restoration of all that was lost in the fall of man. The third cross on Calvary's mountain, the cross of Christ is the answer to the disaster at the beginning of the human existence. "And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was active in Christ, reconciling the word to himself, no longer holding them accountable for the trespassing, and giving this task to us, this Word of reconciliation... for he has made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor 5:19ff

So the confession is made: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; but not really I, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now life in this fleshly frame, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20 Preach less than this and the cross is of no effect. Here is the serious note: the proper meaning of the cross is entirely linked with what happened on it for us all. To reduce the cross to an element of church decoration, to be a piece of jewellry in a belly button, to use it as a means of forcing people to the monstrosity of christianity or what ever else man is cajoled to use it for, quickly runs into this scathing asessment by the Holy Spirit through Paul: "Many walk, I have often warned you about this, as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their God is their belly, and their glory is their shame as all they mind are things of the earth." Phil 3.18-19

In our modern times many sneer at the old simple gospel songs such as this:

"On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame.."  and there are fewer and fewer who confess that they cherish that old rugged cross where the dearest and best of this world was deliberately there, to be slain, because of our  desperate need for being saved. And we have had three thousands years to prove that we cannot save ourselves.

Three crosses then. On the hill of Calvary. One for the deeds of man, one for the viles of the devil, and one for the glorious act of God.  The sinner who repented not did not enter paradise, no restoration of that which was lost in his case. The other responded to the suffering saviour and was given assurance of presence with ths Saviour in the eternity of God's kingdom. And in between those two "the Man of sorrows, familiar with shame, temptations, ills and woes of mankind." On His cross in His last hours you see how the broken relationships of the fall are indicated as being restored. The sun was darkened, the earth shook, the dead were raised, the temple veil rent asunder from top to bottom, the widow about to lose her son was given a new relationship with one disciple. And Jesus did not die, he called out to His Father and having tasted the bitterness of utter isolation from God by the sin he bore in our place, he could say that all was now finished and closed that chapter by saying "Father into your hands I commend my Spirit."

Unjustly accused! You see that is where the hidden cross of the enemy is in plain view. Over his thorn-crowned head we see the accusation: INRI. Iesous Nazareus Rex Iudaeorum! False accusation all together but fabricated along the lines of the old pattern. "Say not that he is the king of the jews! Say only that he claimed to be it. We don't recognize him as such!" So said the scribes and the Sanhedrin. But Pilate is adamant: "What I have written I have written."

Pray, friend, tell me, what are the accusations written boldly above your head? They were nailed to the same tree, why are you still carrying them around?

The satanic cross has only one true opposition: the Word of God. Which is the only sword of the Spirit that bites against those powerful lies. My heart shudders to see how little knowledge in the Word that the majority of the professing christians have.

No wonder that the cross is so abused. So little understood, so often emptied of all it's life-changing power.

Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster Jan 31 2018


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