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Focus On the Cross

In your journey towards sexual integrity, it matters what you’re looking at, it matters what you’re looking for. Focus on the Cross!

In this episode, we hope to encourage you to fix your focus on the Cross.

As you’re doing the work to become whole, to break old patterns, to make new choices; set your eyes on Jesus on the Cross.

Don’t let shame or hopelessness take your eyes off the Salvation Jesus is offering you from the Cross. 

Focusing on the Cross with you!

Highlights:

It matters what we’re looking at. It matters what we’re looking for, and that’s absolutely true in our journey towards sexual integrity.

If you’re a person who struggles with sexual sin, or you know somebody who does, I want to commend to you the importance of focusing your life around Jesus on the Cross.

Keeping the Cross in front of us always acknowledges for us and reveals to us that we are not done yet, that there is forgiveness for us, that there is a place where our sin and failure goes. There’s a place where our shame belongs.

Extras:

Ephesians 5, Song of Solomon, Genesis 2 and 3 – For more on Jesus giving his body to his bride, the Church.

Fleming Rutledge “The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ

For more on this topic, check our latest article Failing or Thriving, Eyes on the Cross

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

When I was a little kid, my parents had just divorced. My mom was moving my brothers and I out to Colorado where we grew up. And we had heard about these, these mountains that Colorado had these amazing mountains. And we could see them everywhere. And they’re just beautiful. And but the thing is, I was three years old, and I didn’t know what mountains were, I lived on the east coast and had not recognized mountains before. So when we were first driving into colorado springs from the airport, and my mom said, Hey, boys, look over there. There are the mountains, do you see them? Do you see them? I thought they were animals, I was looking for a certain kind of animal. I’m looking right at these big mountain range, not knowing those are mountains, and I’m looking for some kind of, you know, little prairie dog thing or something in my house, see him? I don’t see him. My older brother, five years old at the time, it gets exasperated and says they’re over there stupid. All right. So, you know, that’s my introduction to what mountains were. What’s my point? My point is, it matters, what we’re looking at, it matters what we’re looking for. And that’s absolutely true in our journey towards sexual integrity. So I want to offer an idea today that has been really helpful for me. And a lot of people I know on their journey towards greater and greater sexual integrity. And I want to offer it because I’ve seen a lot of errors, I think, going both directions. And when it comes to this journey, when I say both directions, I guess what I mean is, on the one side of people, I’ve seen people really kind of lean back, and not aspire to the greatness for which God has made them. And on the other side of seeing people really get rigid, and overly and therefore overly ashamed about their own struggles. And I think the cure to this, I think the solution to this ultimately ends up being the cross of Jesus, the cross is our antidote to that part of us, that would sit back on our laurels and kind of say, Well, I can’t really do better. So I’m not going to try. The cross is also the antidote to that part of us that says, Well, I can’t do better. So I better beat up on myself and get really rigid and kind of extra structured and extra hard on myself in order to live the life that God wants me to live. So what do I mean by this, this practice this, this method that I found so helpful over the years? Well, I think the best way to put it is to keep the cross of Jesus in front of us, we want to keep the cross of Jesus in front of us, and specifically, the crucifixion in front of us. The crucifixion is interestingly, not something that I grew up, very focused on. I grew up in a church tradition that was actually adamant about not holding up a crucifix not putting a crucifix in front of the church, we had a cross in front of church, to the churches credit where I grew up, but not a crucifix. And I remember, at one point, hearing an explanation of this, and the explanation was that Jesus is no longer on the cross, He died once, back in, you know, 30 ad or so. And he’s now off the cross because he died and he rose from the dead. And that’s why we worship looking at an empty cross. And that’s all well and good. I appreciate that theology that. But what I found is that, that a lot of Christians actually lose sight of the centrality of the crucifixion. And what I mean by that is not that we lose sight, just a theological truth of Christianity, but the centrality of salvation, that the centrality of the life that is ours because of what Christ has done for us on the cross, Fleming Rutledge in her book, the crucifixion actually says whenever we look at the crucifix, whenever we look at the crucifixion of Jesus, we don’t do so without remembering also that he rose from the dead. Because if he if he just went to the cross without rising from the dead, then the crucifixion would mean something very, very different than what it means. And so we don’t need to look at an empty cross to remember that Jesus has risen from the dead, we can look at the cross of Christ, the cross with Jesus on it. And also remember, by virtue of the fact of what the cross with Jesus on it accomplishes, for us, it accomplishes it. Because it’s not the end of story. Jesus rose from the dead and therefore he vindicated himself as actually, the Son of God has actually got in flashed is actually accomplishing a defeat of the evil one is actually accomplishing the atonement for our sin. Not just one of those things, but all of those things and much, much more than he accomplished for us on the cross. And we know he accomplishes things not because he went to the cross, but because he rose from the dead. So if you’re a person who struggles with sexual sin, or you know somebody who does, I want to commend to you the importance of focusing your life around Jesus on the cross, focusing yourself, your life, your journey towards sexual integrity, focus, focus that journey on Jesus at Jesus on the cross. There are a lot of other places you might focus when I focus on our behavior, we might focus on how well we’ve been doing, might focus on how poorly we’ve been doing. And actually, just as a side note, and important side note, often those of us who do focus on how well we’re doing it, we over focus there, we will also tend to over focus on how poorly we’re doing, or vice versa, if we if we typically focus on how poorly we’re doing, when we stumble and stumble stumble, then we start doing well, we will overly focus on how well we’re doing. If we tend to if we’re doing well, we overly focus there, then when we have a slip, we will tend to over focus there. Likewise, we might also focus on where we should be, we’re not focusing on where we are, we could focus on where we should be, we could try to have a vision in front of us and always focus on that vision. And, you know, imagine ourselves doing better and there’s merit to that, but we can make that our focus. But I suggest that also might have a couple pitfalls that I think will become clear as I talk about why folks in the cross is so helpful. So let me just talk about the cross for a minute. When we focus on the cross, when we focus on Jesus on the cross, here’s what it does for us when we are doing well. When we are living a life that is integris sexually than relationally, when we are not falling into sexual sin when we are moving toward people in whole relationships when we are living with sexual integrity. A focus on Jesus on the cross always, always gives us a vision of further to go how much further we have to go. It gives us a vision that’s ahead of us on the road. What do I mean by that? Well, Jesus on the cross stripped naked on the cross is the expression there. This is my body given for you. That has connotations in Christianity to the bridegroom giving his body for his bride. And so we’re meant to recognize there and Paul writes about this in Ephesians five, we can also see hints of this foreshadowings of this in the in the Song of Solomon. We also see hints of it even back in Genesis two and three. So what we recognize there is as we look at Jesus the bridegroom giving his body on the cross, we recognize how selfless and how self giving how self sacrificing his love was, for his bride. His love is for his bride, but how selfless and self giving and self donating his love on the cross was for his bride whom he loved and who didn’t deserve that kind of love that kind of giving of self that kind of giving of his body. And so however well we’re doing in the journey towards sexual integrity. Focusing on the cross gives us further to go helps us to see oh my gosh, like I’m doing okay, walking in celibacy as a single person. But I don’t love like that. Who am I loving like that? Where am I donating my strength? Where am I donating my beauty? Where am I giving myself in that kind of self sacrificing way to others in my life? If I’m married, okay, you know, good good for me that I’m not looking at pornography, but am I giving my life away to my wife and to my children or to my husband and my children. There’s always further to go and the cross keeps that self giving love that that supreme infinite, eternal self giving love of God in front of us always. There’s a beautiful picture in one of CS lewis’s book, The Great divorce where he, this he, the protagonist comes upon this waterfall. And as he looks in the waterfall, it actually becomes an icon of Christ. And he sees that the waterfall is almost like this picture of Jesus with his with his with its arm stretched out, and his love and life pouring out always, always always through through eternity pouring out pouring out pouring out. And so the protagonist sees in that in that picture of heaven, that picture of the waterfall, he sees this image of Christ pouring himself out always for people. So we always have further to go, we have always we can look to Christ and see, okay, I’m great for the distance I’ve come. But I’m not going to sit back and rest right now. I’m going to continue to pursue becoming like Jesus, when we’re doing poorly, when we are failing to live the sexually integris life that we want to live when we are failing to walk in sexual freedom when we are failing to walk in sexual integrity. The cross in front of us keeping the cross in front of us, always, always, always acknowledges for us and reveals to us that we are not done yet. That there is forgiveness for us that there is a place where our sin and failure goes. There’s a place that our shame belongs. We learn to press our shame our sin failure or rebellion? Are murderous attitudes towards other people, we press those into the dying body of Jesus on the cross. How and why do we do that? Because when Jesus gave his body on the cross, this is my body, given for you the words that follow our Take, take an eat. And we this which to me has echoes of, of the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were commanded not to take and not to eat. And yet in Genesis three, we read specifically that Eve saw this, this, this fruit, this, this tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and she, the scripture say she took, and she ate. And so there are all these ways that we have reached for these false few food and false fuel and, and, and sinful ways of trying to fill our needs and to fulfill our desires. And Jesus says to us, didn’t those don’t work, those don’t work, they will not satisfy you. So take an eat, take and drink. His body and blood poured out for us his body broken has his blood poured out for us. We have a place to come when we have emptied ourselves into the the the muck and the mire of sin report ourselves out into the toxic waste dumps of the earth. We have a place to bring ourselves and say I’m I am the prodigal who is who is left and I wasted all that you gave me Lord. Where can I bring the the travesty that my life has become? We come to the cross. We know that we belong there because the cross is so brutal is so awful is so dark is so shameful, is so empty, and vile a place and Christ. The Scriptures tell us became a curse on the cross for us. He became sin itself on the cross for us that we might become Paul says the righteous the righteousness of God in him. However much you’ve fallen. However, frequently you fall in however many times you promised you wouldn’t. And you have again, keeping the cross in front of you always, always, always reminds you shows reveals to you where you bring your depravity where you can bring your sin. And I keep saying you because I want you to hear it. But I’m talking to myself too. So often, I think and maybe especially as we’ve walked this road for a long time, you can feel like when we’ve sinned, that there’s nowhere left for us to bring our sin. There’s nowhere left for us to go. I was talking to a brother last week. And one of the things that came up in our conversation was how he felt like he these these spaces in his life, he felt like they were you know, the sacrifice for sin was no longer available for him. And I could identify with him. But I could also tell him, it’s the enemy of your soul that wants you to believe that you have painted yourself in a corner you have you’ve backed yourself into a corner and there’s now nowhere for you to go. The Gospel of Christ, the cross of Jesus always reveals that there is place for us to go with our sin with our failure with our weakness, with our depravity. So brothers and sisters might I commend to you, wherever you are in this journey, if you’re doing really, really well, and you’re enjoying sexual integrity in your life, focus on the cross, focus on Jesus on the cross. Because it will He will reveal to you there, that there is still more he wants to bring you to as far as becoming a man or woman who loves the self giving Christ like love. And if you are falling and failing and stumbling along, keep the cross of Jesus in front of you. And you will find in him always always bread of life. His his his body broken for you. His blood poured out for you a place where your sin can go because it is too much for you to bear. And as we do that, brothers and sisters, what do we find? We find it doesn’t matter if we’ve been walking in sexual integrity for years and years or minutes, that we are on the same path with each other. We link arms with one another, none higher, none lower. We walk together. Christ is our Lord Christ is our vision. And so we cry out together Lord, Be thou our vision, Lord of our life. Or we do cry out that we ask that you would be our vision that we will keep you always before us you the crucified. Lamb of God who is the Lion of God. We bless you and praise you, Lord, for your work on the cross for us. And we ask now that you would apply it to us afresh right now in this moment, however well or poorly we’re doing in the different areas of our life, that we might, through your grace through the work that you’ve accomplished for us in the cross, we might become a bit more like you even right now. When I asked this down the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, amen.

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