The Way of the Cross
By Chip Brogden
Often, those who believe they are called by God to some kind of ministry represent a significant challenge. Most of them are very gifted and talented. Many of them start out with a good heart and have a genuine desire to serve God and help others. But they also usually have an ambition and a desire to be seen, heard and approved by men. Eventually the ministry becomes a means through which serving God becomes a pretext for serving Self, or serving God and Self at the same time. If these selfish ambitions have not been delivered over to the Cross then it represents an impure mixture that God cannot endorse.
Keith Green was already a talented musician and recording artist before he met Christ. It would be natural to assume that God would now use his musical gifts in some ministry capacity. With characteristic zeal and enthusiasm, Keith plunged into the world of the Christian music industry. But eventually he discovered that in order for God to truly use his music, the old Keith Green would have to die; the gift, the talents, the ability that he brought with him into the Kingdom of God had to go through the Cross before God could use them. He embraced the Cross and put aside the piano for a period of months, saying he would never take it up again unless God allowed him to.
One night, after being asked to play at a charity benefit, he reluctantly agreed. About halfway through the song, a pronounced change came over him, and afterwards he told his wife, “I believe that God gave me my music back tonight.” From there, Keith Green’s music and ministry grew and touched the lives of millions of people before his life was cut short in a plane crash. But long before Keith died in that accident, he “died” on the Cross, and that’s why his ministry continues to produce Life today. He discovered it really wasn’t his music after all; it was God’s.
To deliver your ministry over to the Cross and allow it to be crucified is a difficult thing. It represents Isaac, the very thing that God has promised, the thing you love the most, the thing you would give your life for. How difficult it was for Abraham to offer up Isaac! But this is the way of the Cross. And do not suppose that once a thing is delivered over to death and then “returned” in resurrection that it is now yours to do with as you please. The mark of the Cross is upon it from that day forward, and it is kept alive by the Life of the Lord. The moment we touch it or take it back into our own power, we remove it from resurrection ground, and it dies. Embracing the Cross daily is the only way it can be maintained.
Those who embrace the Cross will find that it penetrates deeply, touching every aspect of their lives. To the degree that we allow the Cross to do its work in us, to that same degree will we experience the blessing, the freedom and the power of Resurrection Life. As we are decreased, He is increased (Jn. 3:30). More of Jesus and less of me: this is the Narrow Path, the path of discipleship, the way of spiritual growth and maturity.