Foot of the Cross
While gazing out my front window, as I often do in the morning, I began to think about the transforming power of Jesus. There were several butterflies fluttering about; some yellow, some white, and some were a beautiful brown with meticulous markings of black lines and circles of all different colors and shapes. As I considered the Monarch butterfly with its colorful markings, it became obvious that it was more appealing to the eye than the plain white or yellow butterflies. Although the white and yellow butterflies were not as eye catching as the Monarch butterfly; the thought came into my mind that even though they looked quite different they all started the same way.
Isn’t that true for people, as well? People enter the world in the same way–through physical birth. I realize there are many different circumstances that surround each individual, whether good or bad, but in reality, we all say hello to this world in the same way. A butterfly’s choices consist of where to fly, where to land, and when to take off again. A person’s choices are much more profound. The transformational journey of people’s lives depend on the choices they make, the relationships they develop, personal life experiences, and the path they choose to follow. You can choose to follow Christ, or you can choose not to. An individual soul must choose to go through a spiritual transformation, from death unto life, and that transformation can happen only through a relationship with Christ. Jesus said, “I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24 NKJV).
From death unto life, what a glorious transformation that is. Before that act of obedience to Christ’s call, we are walking in darkness–belonging to this world. But at the moment of salvation we are taken out of blackness and transported into Christ’s glorious light. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 NKJV).
IT IS CHRIST THAT TRANSFORMS
It is only through a personal relationship with Jesus that we can be truly transformed. It is Christ living in us, through the Holy Spirit, which gives us the power to live a life that is pleasing to God. “Spiritual Transformation” begins and ends at the Cross of Christ. The result of a transformed life is the manifestation of God’s love and kindness being shared with others, causing a transformation in the hearts of the people we encounter.
It is the transformation of the heart that is crucial for the manifestation of a transformed life. And only Jesus can change a heart. Richard Foster said it this way in his book Life with God, “Today, we struggle to analyze and dissect this simple command to “Believe,” trying to wrap our minds around something we will never fully understand. That is because trusting in Jesus is ultimately not a matter of the mind, but of the heart.”
The Old Testament reveals troubling truths about the state of mankind’s heart, without Jesus, as seen through the eyes of the Lord, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5 NKJV). “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it” (Jeramiah 17:9 NKJV).
Not only do warnings come from the word of God, because of man’s fallen state, so does the hope of a new heart; a heart filled with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (cf. Galatians 5:22-23). All of these are signs of a transformed life: a heart and a life being transformed into the image of Christ.
THE RISEN CHRIST
Jesus’ death and resurrection is the defining transformational moment in the history of all of mankind. From before the creation of the world, this transformational moment was ordained by God to take place. Everything in the Old Testament led to this moment at Calvary where Jesus bled and died for the forgiveness of sin. God revealed His plan for salvation through the sacrificial death of Christ in the Old Testament and it was witnessed in Christ’s death on the cross in the New Testament. Without the forgiveness received at the cross, we would all still be lost in our sins. Void of hope.
THE BIRTH OF THE CHURCH
First was the death and resurrection of Christ which was followed fifty days later by the birth of the church in Acts chapter two. The birth of the church changed everything. Why? Because the Holy Spirit was sent, as promised, by Jesus, giving power to the body of Christ to do the Lord’s work: the work of transforming lives by the Spirit of God. In John 14:16-17 Jesus promised, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John: 14:16-17 NKJV).
Transformation of the old callused heart, to a new Christ like heart, begins at the foot of the Cross of Christ. As flawed human beings, we cannot lead anyone to the transforming power of Jesus unless we first surrender our lives to Him. Any attempt to lead someone to the truth of the gospel without you first being transformed would be like the blind leading the blind and we know where that ends up—both fall in a ditch.
In the introduction, I mentioned the transformation of a butterfly from a seed planted on a leaf into a beautiful butterfly fluttering around from plant to plant leaving its mark. So should it be with a life transformed by Christ, a seed planted in our heart, maturing into a beautiful story of Christ’s transforming love in us. Through this life-changing transformation, we should leave our mark on the hearts of others by sharing the Gospel message of the cross allowing Jesus to do His transforming work in their lives. Peter writes in his first epistle, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
Are you eager to tell others about the hope that is in you? The world around us is in such need for the lasting hope that is only found in Jesus. Let’s share the hope that the Scriptures command us to share with anyone who asks.
There is no hope found anywhere today except at the Foot of the Cross of Christ. There was a time when people found hope in the Constitution of the United States, but hope can no longer be found on the steps of the Capital in Washington D.C. Once there was hope in the prosperity of America, but hope no longer dwells on Wall Street. Once we found hope in the goodness of mankind, but there is no hope in a heart, as God said, “Where every thought of his heart was only evil continually” (cf. Genesis 6:5).
For America, and the whole world, the only true and lasting hope resides at the Foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ, a living hope, given as a free gift to all who believe in Him, “Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (cf. Romans 10:13).”
I just saw where the Doomsday Clock was moved ahead two minutes; dare we wait another second to share Jesus with a lost and hurting world?