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Against the Cross

Aug 28, 2016 03:34AM ● By Bonnie Lyn Smith

When I was clearing some weeds from my backyard around a makeshift cross, I saw how just in a few weeks, vines were trying to hide it again.

Minutes later, I was dragging some vines across my yard only to find one trying to entangle itself in my very delicate cross bracelet. Again, a push-pull against the cross.

None of this is new. An assault on the truth of the powerful and history-making act on the cross has been around for 2,000 years. While I know those weeds don’t have minds of their own, they certainly served as a timely reminder to me.

Luke 14:27-28, ESV, Jesus speaking to the Pharisees in a parable

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

When you follow the Christ of the cross, of course you are going to find resistance. It’s what being a Christian is: carrying that cross for the rest of our earthly lives to testify to the Christ who hung upon it on our behalf.

John 16:33, ESV, Jesus speaking to the disciples

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

I was having coffee with a prayer partner, sharing with her my exasperation at all the drama leading up to a trip my family recently took. It was travel planned with good intentions, pure hearts, and a desire to love as many as we could along the way. And because those ideas reflected the Christ we believe in, the truth of the cross was once again under attack.

Do I sound paranoid? If you're having a hard time believing this, consider this scripture from the New Testament. 

Ephesians 6:12, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

If the truth of the cross is not real, why would “cosmic powers” or “spiritual forces” wrestle against it and us?

I don’t mean to say that if we stub our toes on the dresser on the way to the bathroom at night, demonic forces were leashed upon us. What I am saying is that the more we set our course for becoming more like Christ, the more discouragement and distraction come our way.

Ever notice incredible resistance when you set out to do something nice for someone? They misunderstand your intentions, or every obstacle on the road appears on the way to their house? Maybe your kids fight on the way to love on an elderly relative, or an act of friendship is ill-received. Whatever it is, love is the message of the cross, and until it is fulfilled completely at the second coming of Christ, that which was defeated on the cross (death and evil) will roar loudly against it.

For example, I may be in the middle of writing a message about Christ in a column or blog or in a ministry moment with a friend on the phone, but my flesh, so easily returning to the opposite of love, expresses irritation at the husband arriving late in the door.

Isn’t it something how we can switch gears so quickly? We may be in the middle of praying for someone, but we so easily snap at our children when they leave the milk out. Our flesh nature is the problem. Without remembering how much that which is threatened by the cross wants to take our eyes off the Christ of the cross, without being diligent to stay in conversation with God and in His Word, enemy forces creep across the lines into our hearts again. It’s to be expected. It’s the norm. We need to be on guard. That’s why Paul wrote about spiritual armor to the Ephesians. After saying “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might,” he tells us exactly how.

Ephesians 6:10-18, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…

Evil goes on in the world. It takes its 15 minutes. We have a hard time reconciling both the evil we participate in and that which we are victims of. All of it—the monstrosities in world news and the sins and struggles within our own households—is designed to make us think love does not win.

And that’s where faith comes in because we have to look ahead to that which we don’t see. We have to trust in the goodness of God. And we have to take heart these words from Paul that the awful stuff of life can be used to grow us into more Christ-like character.

Romans 5:3-5, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I probably wouldn’t still be on this planet if I didn’t believe in the goodness of God still reigning supreme above all of the sin and heartache. But that’s a story for another day.

When you feel forces pushing against the cross you believe in, remember the salvation bought for you there with the sacrificial love of God. The truth of the cross still stands. In the end, it wins. I end with this note from King David, a kindred spirit in the Old Testament.

Psalm 27:13-14, KJV, King David writing

[I had fainted], unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.


Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.

Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.


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