I sat in the pew surrounded by others, a church full of mourning, grieving people. Grieving at the tragic loss of life, the loss of a husband…a father…a son…a brother…a friend. A life snuffed out in a dark and desperate moment of the soul. I sat there feeling so much pain, it's not that I knew this person deeply but I felt the pain of loss for the family and my heart broke deeply for them.
Yet as I sat there I felt grief and pain from another source…seeing those who used to sit in the pews around me…who used to lead and be involved in the Church I attend but are no longer. Pain…disagreements…lack of trust…pride…self-righteousness…misunderstandings…past hurts…mistakes...etc. have separated us. And a huge gulf remains between us and it seems a bridge across can never be built. My heart broke…I grieved at this loss in the Body of Christ..this pain…this brokenness and I wept.
I thought here we all are, brought together by death and sorrow. All of us shedding tears of pain. It doesn't matter what side you sit on in a disagreement, pain is pain and we all feel it and grief is grief and we all feel it. All these things that separate us, yet death brings us together and we stand and weep on the level ground of death.
I am reminded of the level ground of the cross. As brothers and sisters in Christ we all stand/kneel on that same level ground. That cross is the very instrument that can bridge the huge gulf that separates us…it is the only bridge…and it is the death bridge.
It is the bridge that requires you to die to self because Jesus is the One who gave up His life upon that cross for me…for you and I only have life and you only have life because He gave up His. And I am called and you are called to live your life as Christ. That same death bridge that enabled me and enabled you to have life and the fullness of life is the very death bridge that we all must take up if we are a true follower of Christ.
On the evening of this same day, this day of loss, grief and sorrow my husband and I went to a Paul Baloche worship concert that was being held at our church. Once again I sat and looked around and saw some who no longer fill the pews on a Sunday morning service, the same who earlier in the day had grieved as I grieved in the pews in another church. My heart was heavy with sadness. How can we do this…how can the Body of Christ…His Bride live like this.
Paul led us in such beautiful songs of worship, praise, love and hope to our God…to Jesus our Saviour…the One who died upon that cross bridge. Jesus…the answer…the Way…the Truth…the Life. I took to heart the words I sang and I wondered, how can the parts of the Body of Christ live in such animosity towards one another and then how can we worship in the same room when there is such brokenness between us. My heart was troubled…my heart was sorry that it had come to this. Lord forgive us, we are Your Body, Your Bride and the world looks on.
The. World. Looks. On.
We sang Above All; "Crucified, laid behind a stone, You lived to die rejected and alone. Like a rose trampled on the ground You took the fall and thought of me above all." One word stood out...Trampled…I felt in all of this Jesus was being trampled all over again by the very ones He loved and called His own.
I am His…they are His…we are His…the Bride…the Body…His…
"The same love that set the captives free
The same love that opened eyes to see
Is calling us all by name
You are calling us all by name
The same God that spread the heavens wide
The same God that was crucified
Is calling us all by name
You are calling us all by name
You're calling, you're calling
You're calling us to the cross."
And as Paul Baloche said, "The cross is the great leveller." He's calling us to that place and do we understand the great price of that place…do I…do you?
He who was without sin…the God man…the very One who spoke this world into being…the very One who was so grieved, so very grieved by the ones He had created and loved, because of all their sin…my sin…your sin, because of their rejection…my rejection…your rejection of Him and His ways. He came down to give His life upon that cross…that horrible device of death…a pain so great, accepted by a love so great that we'll never fully understand it this side of heaven. The cross bridge…that bridge of complete redemption and reconciliation if we bend the knee before it and take up that cross and follow Him.
In all of this brokenness in the Body, it's my heart that I must check and measure in light of His Word and His ways and you must check yours. I have to be open to letting His light shine in every dark corner of this heart of mine and where bitterness…anger…judgement…rebellion…independence…unforgiveness...pride and sin reside, they need to be brought to the foot of the cross. It is only at the foot of the cross…the death bridge where there can be any hope of reconciliation for any of us. A place where my life is laid down and His taken up. It is the place where I do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk and spend myself on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed because then my light will rise in the darkness and my night will become like the noonday. And so it is for each one of us as His beloved…His Bride…His church. The very church He gave His life up for in order to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
And the world looks on…what will they see…who will they see.