The Cross

Eberhard Arnold reminds us that it is in sharing Christ’s suffering that we can find new life in the risen Lord. A meditation for Lent.

Everything we have ever been or experienced or achieved must die at the cross. Only from Christ’s grave can the will be resurrected into freedom.

It is the loneliness of the Crucified One that gives us freedom from self-importance. It is the step taken by faith, into death and through the grave, that leads to certainty of life. Christ accepts us so completely that he says, “I am this poor sinner; his sin is my sin, and his death is my death.” This unity in death frees us from sin, despite the most terrifying consciousness of it. We have life in the Risen One!

Now Christ is in us: he has taken our lives upon himself. Our old lives are taken away; through his life, we now share all that he is. Everything he possesses he now offers to us. The same Jesus who says, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me” now gives us his authority (Matt. 28:18–20). The same Christ who takes as his own the seat at the right hand of the Father makes us partakers in his divinity (2 Pet. 1:4). He, the Son of Man, the last Adam, has made us his brothers and sisters.

…We need not define faith; what we need is simply Christ. Christ comes down to us and becomes our life. His coming is faith; what he does is faith. With all their understanding and good intentions, the human forces of piety, wisdom, and religion have no faith. Their efforts to rise up to God are futile. Believing in Christ means quite simply that Christ becomes one with us. It means that he abides in us. The life we have in faith is Christ himself.

And where Christ is, the law that condemns us is forever canceled. Here is Christ, who condemns sin and throttles death! Where he is, everything that destroys life must withdraw. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom. 8:35) Christ is here! No power can sever us from the love of God as long as he, the most powerful, is our master. If we lose him, there is no help, no consolation, no counsel anywhere. The terror of death will be all there is to know. But to be with Christ means life and peace, within and without.

Adapted from Johann Christoph Arnold, ed. Eberhard Arnold, Modern Spiritual Masters (Rifton, NY: Plough, 2011). The original is from Eberhard Arnold's 1935 Inner Land, published in 1936.