7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. Mat. 11:7-9
Worldly people have a saying, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. My dad also had a saying, which he constantly repeated in our presence. He would often say, “Children, there is no person on earth as dangerous as a man with a full stomach!”
My dad worked for rich men nearly all his life. During the colonial years he worked for a white man. He had a keen eye for detail, and he must have seen what money, power and wealth does to a man. In so many words, dad was telling us that these things corrupt a man. They make a man to become wanton.
There are few men in the world who have the control needed to handle money, wealth or power.
Jesus challenged the Jews. “What did you go out to see?”
People line up the streets to see royalty pass by. But no sizable crowd could congregate to see a man who has been living in the desert eating locusts and dressed in camel’s hair.
And yet the Jews went out to see John… because he had something that their hungry hearts desired.
Let’s take the scenario where you are a rich, worldly entrepreneur. If a vagabond came knocking at your door you most likely might be tempted to turn him away… until he removes from the folds of his dirty clothes the biggest diamond you’ve ever seen. If your IQ is anywhere near even 0.1, you will open that door extra wide, welcome that man in and offer him the biggest breakfast you have ever given anyone. After which you will gently begin to enquire about that diamond. The fellow sitting in front of you will automatically metamorphose from being a dirty, stinking vagabond in your sight to being a St. Yves perfumer or something.
This is why the church needs an understanding of what the cross comes to do in our lives. The cross does something in our lives that brings out the things of God in our life. It deals with the folly of our human pride to bring out that hidden treasure. It is the crucible where the lusts of the flesh are burned up and we remain pure vessels, vessels of honor fit to carry that Life.
Just because you are saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and probably called to the ministry does not make you the bearer of the Good News. No; God needs to work in you first through the cross for you to be fit to effectively carry His message of the Kingdom.
In the same vein, do not be deceived that just because you have a large following, or a big church, that you are carrying that treasure of the heavenly Kingdom in you. The best measure of how well you are carrying the heavenly treasure lies elsewhere: it is in how much you are dying to self – daily – through taking up your cross and following Christ. God is not bothered by big crowds. Jesus left only 12 apostles on earth, but since then billions upon billions of people have believed the gospel.
A lack of understanding of what the cross needs to do in our lives is the reason there is so much chaos and disorder within the church today. Without the cross, the flesh remains alive, even though we may be talking in tongues and performing miracles.
We do not go to church to see rock stars, or rich business magnates. No, we go looking for something else, something that is unseeable with these eyes, but that can be felt with our hearts. It is the life of Christ, a life that is only attainable through a revelation of the resurrection life, a life that has tasted of the sufferings and death of Christ.
[Below: Curepipe, Mauritius]