The cross precedes the crown

This line, drawn from the song In The Valley, on the Valley of Vision CD I spoke of recently, has increasingly convicted me in the past week. I can’t shake it out of my head. 

We talk about the glorious hope of the Christian life, and the reward of heaven, and the good blessings of God on this earth. But do we ever realise that the road to glory is always one of suffering? It was for Jesus. And so it will be for us.

We see this in Romans 8:17

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

And we see it in Revelation 2:10

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

If we are fixated on the crown of life, we must first take up the cross of death. For he who loses his life for Jesus’ sake will gain it.

But practically, where are we asked to take up the cross? We don’t live under persecution or the threat of death. But we still take up the cross in the way we handle all of life. We must discard pragmatic solutions in favour of biblical solutions, even if we must suffer as a cost – this applies to our work and our relationships. Do we lie to ease things true, or do we hold fast to the truth? Do we keep quiet when we see unethical business practices so that we may keep our jobs? Do we unabashedly exaggerate our accomplishments and skills so that we might get that job? Do we take the promotion that pays better but spells less time for our families?

It is when we embrace the road of suffering that we can truly say with Paul, the life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. He did not give himself so that our sin might abound. He gave himself to free us from the dominion of sin, the world and the devil. He gave himself to secure for us the glorious hope of heaven, the crown of life which we shall look to. And so through Him, we are crucified to the world, and the world to us. We would do well, infintely well, to remind ourselves of this.

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