I would like to share some personal experiences that I believe can be of help to many Christians who have not understood how powerful the Old Rugged Bloody Cross is. In my nineteen years in Christ, I had some confusions and doubts that became more complicated as I searched for answers to many questions about Christianity but the revelation of the mystery of the cross answered them all.
I had persistently asked God why He could not protect His servants. I expected God to arise and fight for the Nigerian Christians but He remained silent. I wept profusely when I saw the video of how the chairman of Michika local government area, Adamawa state chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Lawan Andimi, was beheaded. His killing discouraged me so much that I wondered if these missionary risks were worth taking for a God who cannot protect His own.
I was bathing in the dysphoria of this killing when the Lord took me into a journey of scriptural insightful voyage that revealed the mystery of the cross to me. I came to know that Lawan Andimi was one of the most privileged Christians whom God has prepared to officiate as king, priest, and judge in the millennium rule (Revelation 20:4). I had no option than to send a posthumous congratulatory message to him for his martyrdom.
My joy knew no bound when I realized that if I die in the course of preaching Christ, I will be qualified to reign as a king, minister as a priest, and officiate as a judge during the one thousand year reign of Christ on this earth when He returns. My fear of being killed disappeared as I now know that to live is Christ and to die is gain.
When the mystery of the cross was revealed to me, all answers to my questions were released along with it. I now understand why God allows certain calamities to befall those who faithfully serve Him. I now know that martyrdom is the greatest privilege any believer can have in Christ. The mystery showed me that there are sufferings that are reserved for genuine believers to augment the affliction of Christ that has not been completed.
"Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church"(Colossians1:24 NIV). Apostle Paul rejoiced because He understood the benefit of supplying in his body, the suffering that was lacking in Christ's affliction. What a privilege to be part of these supplies that will facilitate Christ returns when His affliction is complete. I now understand the role of the cross in the lives of believers and why Christ himself had to pass through the agony of the cross before He could fulfill His ministry on earth.
There is this aspect of Christianity that gave me much concern. Sincerely speaking, there was a time that I concluded that not all the old things pass away if one comes to Christ. In my life, I struggled with some old things that refused to pass away and I wondered sincerely if born again really changes one's life.
It was the revelation of the mystery of the cross that gave me the reason why my life was not reflecting Christ and how the cross is the solution to ungodly characters displayed by some us who have professed Christ. I came to know that confessing Jesus as our Lord and Savior does not change characters. What changes characters is our walk with Christ after we have come to Him. We are to advance our Christian journey by denying ourselves, carrying our cross, and following Christ. When we deny ourselves and our flesh are crucified, the Spirit takes over our lives and the manifestation of the flesh is dealt with.
Believers are supposed to be crucified to the world and the world to us. I have learnt through the mystery of the cross how to die daily. When we choose to follow Christ, what it means is that we have also chosen to crucify our flesh. This choice did not in any way remove the influence of the flesh over our body and the conflict of our flesh with the Spirit of God.
The only antidote to the manifestation of the flesh is daily crucifixion that the cross has provided a platform for us. According to Apostle Paul, there is a daily battle between the flesh and the spirit (Galatians 5:17). It is the power of the cross that enables our spirit to defeat the flesh. Since I know this, old things have passed away and every other thing has become new.
The revelation of the mystery of the cross made me realize that Christianity is beyond presenting my request to God and Him solving my problems. The revelation brought me to recognize that it is my responsibility to embrace the cross and suffer for Christ, His name and His gospel if I must enter into the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)
This knowledge prompted me to visit the base of the old rugged bloody cross and picked my customized cross. I kissed it the day I found it and since then I polish it every morning in readiness for the day's journey. I do not know what could give me the joy that my cross gives me every day. I carry it in preparation to die the most shameful death for the sake of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray daily for the grace to have my cross beside me on my dying day so that I can exchange it for a crown when Christ returns.
Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. His calling is to take the gospel to where no one has neither preached nor heard about Jesus. He is the author of the book Mystery Of The Cross Revealed.