If your job requires you to take an oath of being faithful to a cause even if it means paying the ‘ultimate price’, we may understand each other. The problem for me is that I am my own enemy and because my service is to a Government that opposes me, I must be eliminated.
This is the paradox of the cross. To follow Lord Jesus on the narrow way, I must take up my cross and follow Him. I know that He once carried His cross, approaching the ‘place of the skull’ where He would be crucified. But I did not realize that like Lord Jesus, I will hang on my own cross.
There is a process for purifying crude gold. The gold ore is not in the desired form for use. It is gold anyway, but impurities are mingled in. To get pure gold, the ore must go through fire. Something has to be eliminated (‘die’) in the process and naturally, the real gold is built to stand the heat, while the impurities aren’t. But I tell you, it is no easy story for the gold in the fire but the end is glorious.
As we carry our ‘cross’, following the Master and being in fellowship with His Body, the cross becomes obviously burdensome. It is burdensome to the ‘self-serving me’ which by nature cannot stand the weight of the cross, the sacrifice that comes with following Christ and serving His brethren. Little by little, ‘self’ is worn out and gives way.
On the other hand, the new creature we have become in Christ has a nature of being polished and beautified under the cross. The burden proves to produce its excellent character. This is why our Apostolic brethren urged believers to stand firm through trials and tribulations (1 Peter 1:6-7; Romans 5:3-5) with an assurance that the unpleasant experiences take out the destructive, corrupt ‘self’ and purify us. This results in good character.
We know ‘self’ when it is perishing from our lives. It goes with a lot of complaints, dissatisfaction and bitterness when in the flame. Even sighting the cross is grievous to it because it will be killed when it goes there. On the other hand, the renewed man is the one we find rejoicing in Christ while underneath the cross. The renewed man puts his hand on the plow and does not look back. He is born of God.
As we die and become alive, our character becomes more conformed to that of Christ and we have a hope that does not disappoint because God’s love floods our hearts. This is our experience as Lord Jesus cleanses His threshing floor. It is both an individual and corporate experience.
Looking at the glory ahead, we can be glad to pay the supreme price.