But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Gal 6:14
“It’s not all about me.” That’s what I have to keep reminding myself of over and over. Boasting, or bragging, about oneself is habit that is hard to overcome. I see it in other people, but I’m not so good at seeing it in myself. We want to “Boost by Boast” a lot of the time. Making ourselves seem bigger and better than we really are by bringing up things that we have done well. Look at how it affects our whole society. Build yourself up on your resume, on your Facebook site, or to your friends and family. The biggest problem is that we can inflate our self-worth to others making up for the low self-worth we feel inside of ourselves. This kind of thinking backfires on us though, because we know that it isn’t all true, it’s a façade, that ends up lowering our self-worth even more.
Paul, in the passage above, says that the only thing he wants to boast in is the cross of Christ, why is that? The great thing that has happened for mankind is God coming to earth as man and revealing the Father to us. It is about taking what Christ said and did in His life and applying it to our lives. Of anyone who had the right to boast in this world, it was the true Son of God, but He didn’t. He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” Phil 2:7. Peter said, “Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God” 1 Peter 4:1-2.
Jesus humbled Himself and did not want to build Himself up in people’s eyes, but pointed them towards God the Father, so that they would live for the will of God. Christ suffered for us in the flesh, so that we would follow His example, not so that we would not have to suffer. Jesus wanted us to pick up our cross and follow Him. It is hard to live without sin in our lives, but if we are willing to follow Jesus, and suffer as He did, then we can rise up against the world of sin and live for the will of God by crucifying ourselves to the world’s desires. If there is anyone or anything we ought to boast in, it is the cross of Jesus Christ. We have a Lord and Savior who leads our lives, by sacrificing Himself on the cross for us, so that we can have the hope of eternal life. Christ died the worst of deaths of anytime in history. Many of us would be willing to die for a loved one or a friend, but Christ died the ugliest death available, for all people – the best and the worst. We may be willing to drown to save a child, take a bullet for a friend, or die in one of many ways, but no one would be willing to be crucified for someone else. It was a long drawn out death that could take days to complete. It was being tortured before they ever nailed you to the cross to be lifted up into the air and hang defenselessly. It was to humiliate you beyond imagination so that others would not want to follow you. I doubt anyone would have to die this way anymore, but if Christ was willing to go through that for us, what will be willing to go through for Him? Could we give up the habits that take us away from following Him? Would we be willing to go out and make disciples not only in all nations, but in our own community? What are we willing to sacrifice and boast in as Christians who live in this world? Well it takes giving ourselves to God through Christ. Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” Gal 2:20. Do you feel that you have been crucified with Christ? Paul wrote this to the church in Rome, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” Rom 6:3-4. So we went through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ when we were baptized in to Him, but what does that really mean and is it producing the follower Christ is looking for?
Paul wrote to the Ephesian church, “That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” Eph 4:22-24. Also, in Romans, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” Rom 12:1-2. Brothers and sisters, it’s not all about us, but what we can become in Christ. We need to change from a person that looks like the rest of the world and become an image of Christ here on earth. It’s not about just sitting back and being perfectly good, but to carry on the cause of Christ to all we meet. Not that they will be like us, but that they will be like Christ also. Are we boasting about the cross of Jesus Christ enough? For Paul it is not about receiving anything from this world but what he was laying up in heaven. We see in Philippians 4:11, that Paul said that he had lived a life of plenty and now he was living a life that was anything but plenty in a material sense. Paul takes a moment in 2 Corinthians 11:22-33, to boast about his life in Christ. It was no ordinary boasting, but boasting about his suffering as he followed Christ. Back in Philippians 4:13, Paul explains that he can do all thing through Christ who strengthens him.
How much am I willing to suffer for Christ knowing that He will strengthen me and get me through all situations? I’m afraid not as much as I should be. I’ve got a pretty good life and it is hard to do anything that will “rock the boat” or cost me anything in return. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I just don’t have the strength to go out where I might receive any discomfort. Maybe you’re young and you don’t think that you can do anything without seeking approval from older people who don’t want to “rock the boat”. Maybe you’re seeking approval from the wrong place. I remember the story of the disciples being out on the lake in a boat when a huge storm came upon them. They were terrified and didn’t know if they were going to make it back to shore. They looked to Jesus for help and He is sleeping in the bow of the boat. What? Yeah, He’s being rocked to sleep in the boat. They wake Him up, twelve frightened full-grown men, woke Jesus up for help. He rebukes the weather – “Peace, be still” and then rebuked them for having little faith while having the Lord with them in a time of storm. Jesus possibly goes back to sleep and the disciples sat there in amazement that He had strength to control earthly elements. Jesus didn’t seem concerned about the boat rocking; should we? I’m afraid that many times in the church we are just trying to keep the peace and not willing to shake things up once in a while so that the church can grow.
I think about our brother Jim telling about one of his apple trees that wouldn’t produce fruit. When he asked someone about it, they told him that the tree need to go through some stress to wake it up, so that it would grow and produce fruit. He took a 2X4 and beat the trunk of the tree and put some scars on it. It worked, the tree started producing like it was intended to. Maybe the church needs to be smacked with a holy 2X4 once in a while so that it will grow. That’s kind of scary isn’t it? But I believe it’s true. We can try and keep the peace so much that there is finally a R.I.P sign posted on locked doors to our building. Are we willing to shake things up to grow as the church or are we content to die with church? I, for one, want to see the church grow and to go on for many generations past me. I don’t want to just see it though; I want to be part of it. Paul, in the passage at the top of this article, seems to be one who is willing to do something radical to make Christ’s church grow. He wants to boast in the Lord, boast about the cross of Jesus, he wants the whole world to know and he is not ashamed of it! So he writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” Rom 1:16. What can we do together to grow the church of Christ in our area?