We are the people of the cross. We keenly feel this truth burning inside of us as we watch the horrors of beheadings across the sea. This is the label they stamp on our foreheads. And, this is a label that fits us well. People of the cross.
How often have we trudged through crowded city streets with our Jesus, who was both God and man? How often have we followed Him, in our minds, to that hill called the Skull? How many times have we imagined ourselves at the foot of the cross, while the skies darkened and He cried, “It is finished!” How many thousands of times have we shaken our heads and tried to steady trembling hearts as we considered the crushing weight of what He bore for us? Yes, we are people of the cross.
Last week Chad and I sang to people of the cross. Warriors, actually. Christians with years of faithful trust behind them already. People who have buried wives and husbands and children and dreams of all kinds. Their cheeks were wet as they sang along, the words that are so easy to sing, but difficult to live out: I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary. I’ll believe, whatever the cost. One saint’s wrinkled hands tapped out a determined rhythm. And, when time has surrendered and earth is no more, I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.
The collective heart swell in the room was breath-taking. We are people of the cross, we sang to one another.
And, this is no small admission. No sweet phrase that we say for Sunday school stickers. Especially not today. Not now. Not when twenty-one men are methodically murdered on a beach just for saying it to each other and living it before the world: We are people of the cross.
But, there’s more. There’s so much more to being a follower of this Jesus. To believing with all our hearts that He is who He said He is. That He really died and rose again. That He ascended to Heaven and is now sitting in the seat of honor at the right hand of God the Father. That He is reigning over all of the nations and that He will continue to reign forever. This King Jesus. No longer the humble carpenter’s son. No longer beaten and bruised. No longer hanging on a rough wooden cross or lying lifeless in a borrowed tomb.
Today, right now, He reigns in majesty and honor and glory for all eternity. We are not just people of the cross. And, this is where the murderers have vastly underestimated us and our great God. We are also people of the throne.
And, today we can rest in the truth that the Christian men who were brutally slain this week knelt on a Libyan beach as people of the cross, and when they lifted their eyes a moment later, they looked straight into the shining glory of a risen Christ on His throne.
So, when the crosses on our backs remind us how much Jesus endured, when they help us to identify with Him in big and small ways, when we sing with shaky voices I’ll believe, whatever the cost. When we are brought to our knees by this murderous world, let’s always remember that we can lift our eyes. For we are people of the throne.
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14