The more you understand the cross of Jesus Christ, the more you begin to see things… things that are hidden. That is why the Apostle Paul calls the gospel of Jesus Christ a mystery, and a revelation (see Ephesians 3).
More and more as you understand the cross, you begin to realize that the Kingdom of God has nothing to do with the things of this world; in fact, one day, it becomes crystal clear to you that God’s Kingdom has absolutely nothing to do with anything of this world; that it is spiritual, and not material.
When it comes to the material life, for example, you begin to understand why Jesus had “not where to lay his head” (Mat. 8:20); and yet this same Man could walk on water, He could feed more than 5,000 people at one sitting; and He could raise the dead.
For which is greater: having a place to lay your head or walking on water?
You begin to understand why the Apostle Paul could tell the Corinthians concerning himself and the apostles:
“9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (2 Cor. 6:9-10)
You begin to understand why the apostles would walk about without a dime in their pockets (3:6) and yet the Bible indicates they could have been rich had they chosen to.
“34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4:34-37)
All the church assets were at the apostles’ disposal. And yet, they would not use any of it on their own persons. Their hearts were not in these things.
It is as you grow in your understanding of the cross that you get to understand the vanity and the futility of this earthly life. You begin to understand even why Jesus did not marry; nor Paul. You understand Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:1-2:
“1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”
Marriage is holy, indeed (Heb. 13:4); but these earthly marriages are not God’s original plan. In other words, earthly marriage is not God’s plan in the Spirit. That is why a man and woman are not joined in their spirits, but in their bodies. They only become one in their spirits if both are living for Christ.
Jesus made it clear that in God’s heavenly Kingdom,
“… they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Mat. 22:30)
Earthly marriage exists simply to prevent us from fornication, as Paul states. Earthly marriage is a testimony to the power of the flesh and it is allowed because of the weakness of our flesh. God of necessity had to sanctify marriage; otherwise, it would be unholy and we would not be allowed to marry.
But our Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul and others, by the grace of God, crucified the flesh and were therefore able to not engage in earthly marriage. They were able to live only for the heavenly marriage.
The Roman Catholic church tried imitating this heavenly lifestyle of abstinence in the flesh and they have ended up destroying more lives than have all the wars in the world.
As you understand the cross more, you realize more and more that the spiritual man or woman indeed has nothing in this world to live for. The Apostle Paul realized this fully well. Hence he declares in Galatians 2:20:
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
That means that every breathe of earthly air that Paul took, he took for Christ; every motion he made with his earthly body, he made for Christ; and that his thought processes were wired in the Spirit to Christ’s. He lived, not for himself, but for Christ. He never did, thought or spoke anything for himself, nor for the flesh, but for Christ. He says again,
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)
For Paul, to live was Christ.
We, on the contrary, live a ragtag life, where we try to infuse Christ and the flesh together. But that cannot be called a spiritual lifestyle. If we really want to be spiritual, we have a long way to go in disentagling ourselves from the earthly and living for what is purely spiritual.
But take heart… It is a journey, and a long one. As long as you are denying yourself and taking up your cross and following Christ, you are on the right track even if you are not perfect yet.
[JESUS – What a beautiful Name!]