The Apostle Paul spoke of the cross of Christ as the wisdom and power of God. In that cross Paul found steady guidance and a compulsion to a new life. Perhaps with Paul as our witness and example followers of Jesus today can find a similar directive and compulsion for living with greater depth and significance. What did Paul see in the cross that can help us today?
Foremost, for Paul, is the absence of an external law that governed the journey to the cross. Certainly the religious establishment of Jesus’ day had rules of right and wrong. But a careful observer of Jesus will notice just how often He seemed to delight in breaking the rules. Rules of right and wrong did not direct Jesus. The self-offering of Jesus upon the cross was one that was pressed forward by an inward Spirit – God’s Spirit as Jesus listened closely to His Father’s will. Remember that in the garden, before Jesus was arrested, Jesus asked in prayer for the cross to be taken away from Him. Yet, in the same prayer Jesus sought and submitted to God’s will. Paul’s discovery in this, and our discovery to be made, is that life for Jesus was a series of adventures, prompted by love and obedience, to know God’s will.
Second, Jesus lived loyally and daringly. Jesus’ life was not without perplexities and mental struggles and neither will ours be. Yet, led by the Spirit responsibilities and problems were thought through and addressed. Anything at variance with what Jesus perceived to be the will of God was dismissed and this often came with the knowledge that life would be lived dangerously. If we seek to follow Jesus our lives will not be any less dangerous – not if our quest to follow is an authentic one.
Finally, Paul listened carefully to Jesus recasting the commandments of the Old Testament in a manner that penetrated the heart of women and men. Application of the commandments meant more than outward behavior and actions; Jesus’ concern was with matters of the heart. A most marvelous example is the commandment against adultery. Jesus creates fresh understanding of the commandment by saying that even a lustful glance in the wrong direction convicts us. Such disruptions of the religious order of the day hasten the cross. Similarly Jesus has not given us ready-made solutions of our personal or social problems but calls us to seek God’s unfolding guidance in this great adventure of faith. It is an adventure where we soon discover that God is creating a new earth through our obedience.