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T.D. Jakes is the CEO of TDJ Enterprises, LLP; founder and senior pastor of The Potter's House of Dallas, Inc.; and the New York Times bestselling author of Making Great Decisions (previously titled Before You Do), Reposition Yourself: Living Life Without Limits, and Let It Go: Forgive So You Can be Forgiven, a New York Times, USA TODAY, and Publishers Weekly bestseller. He has won and been nominated for numerous awards, including Essence magazine’s President’s Award in 2007 for Reposition Yourself, a Grammy in 2004, and NAACP Image awards. He has been the host of national radio and television broadcasts and is regularly featured on the highly rated Dr. Phil show. He lives in Dallas with his wife and five children.
I hear people ask the question over and over today: “What is the relevancy of the Cross of Jesus Christ? What does it matter to me that Christ died on a Cross over two thousand years ago? How does His Cross add any value to my life and to who I am and to who I want to be? What difference does it make whether Jesus rose from the dead? Even if He did, I’m going to go to work tomorrow just as I always have. It’s not going to make any difference to me or to my family, or to my attitudes or my daily life. So why should I care about the so-called Good News ”
Perhaps it’s a question you’ve asked yourself or someone else and never received an answer to that you considered to be satisfactory. If that’s the case, I want to answer your question once and for all, but not in the way you might be expecting. I could tell you that the Cross of Christ is the hinge of all the world’s history, and that it is without a shadow of a doubt the most crucial historical event that is the foundation for your relationship with God. We’ve created a holiday to acknowledge and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus—and I believe the foundation for this holiday to be true. But to start there is to try to present the solution before you understand the problem. If all you’ve heard is a list of what someone thought were solutions, it is very anticlimactic for me or anyone else to point first to the power of the Cross and the resurrection of Jesus until you are aware of the universal human dilemma—the degradation and the depravity of the human soul, which includes mine and yours and everyone else’s—the answer is irrelevant.
Nobody searches for an answer if they don’t have a question. No one seeks a solution if they’re not convinced they have a problem. I know that was true in my life. Until I came to see what the true nature of my heart was like, the Cross just didn’t make a lot of sense. But in the process of discovering who I really was, of seeing the real me, I found my soul crying out for answers.
So before I focus on the consequences of the Cross, I will shine a light on the dilemma that brought us to the point where we need the Cross in the first place.
Comprehending why and how the Cross of Christ makes a difference in our lives starts with an understanding of who God is.
One of the first things we need to understand is that our God is eternal, He is an everlasting and dateless God—One who is without a beginning or an end of days. King David said, “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2). He rules in eternity, which is timeless—there are no days, no weeks, no hours, no seconds. God simply exists in eternity.
Whenever God forms a thing, He will fill it.
Before God made man, the Bible says He formed the earth, and then through a divine process He began to fill the earth with good things. There is a life principle here that I don’t want you to miss: Whenever God forms a thing, He will fill it. That is as true for your life today as it was in His original creation. You don’t need to worry about filling your life, because whenever God forms something, He will fill it.
He formed the earth and then filled it with abundant life.
He formed the sea and then filled it with great whales and fish.
He formed the open firmament and filled it with birds.
He formed the dry land and filled it with grasses and trees.
Finally, He formed man and breathed in him the breath of life so that he became a living soul, placing man in time.
The concept of time requires some stretching of your mind, but consider time as a sliver between two eternities—eternity future and eternity past. Thomas Carlyle said, “One life—a little gleam of time between two eternities.” Man was placed in a sliver of time, just for a moment really, an interlude, an interruption between eternity future and eternity past.
If we can capture the thought of eternity in our minds, it will change …
the way we view God,
the way we view life,
the way we view ourselves,
the way we face problems,
and the way we deal with death.
If we begin to comprehend that all of the business and interaction we are experiencing in this present world is merely a brief interruption in an ongoing relation of eternity, our perspective on all of life will change. If we come to grips with the fact that we are eternal, and that we are going to live somewhere forever—though we may not be able to define eternity so as to satisfy a metaphysician—we will be amazed and transformed by the wonder of the meaning of life.
We don’t have to be theologians to understand that we are eternal. Science informs us that all matter is eternal, and that it continues to exist in one form or another. It then corroborates what the Bible validates: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). That’s what God told Jeremiah: “Before you even got here, I picked you out. I had predestined you. I had predetermined you. I prearranged for you to be who you are and where you are at this particular window of time.”
That is not just true for the prophet Jeremiah. The same is true for you and me!
God is amazing! God is astounding! God is incredible! He is power and purpose. He is the fusion of energy and intellect. He is a strategist, and He has a plan for everything, including our lives. What I love about Him is not just that He is powerful—our God is a thinking God, a logos God, an intelligent God, and He has a plan. That gives me joy, because sometimes I don’t have a plan; and when I do have a plan, oftentimes my plan goes awry. But it helps me understand that when my life seems chaotic and crazy, that God has a strategy for my life. According to Romans 8:28, I can rest assured that “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
You and I are called out of eternity into time according to His purpose and plan.
Women readers are now saying, “Hold on a minute. You left us out!” No, I didn’t! You were in Adam.
We must also understand that God is good and that He is sovereign. That means that God is in complete control, and that out of His goodness and His mercy, He chooses to be good because He is intrinsically good. There is no need for someone to police God or watch over Him. He just chooses to be good. And out of His goodness and sovereignty, God decided, as the final act of creation, to make man. Man, then, is the crescendo of His creation.
We must also understand that God is a loving God, and out of the incomprehensible depths of His love, He created someone to love. The greatest love story we will ever read is found between the books of Genesis and Revelation, because God handcrafted an object to love. In essence, He said, “I want something to love,” and He took that something out of eternity and brought it down into time. He scooped up a bit of clay and began to form and fashion man into His likeness and into His image so that He might have someone to love.
If you believe that is true, you’ll understand that we are far more interested in religion than God is. God is not interested in religion; He is interested in relationship. Religion only becomes significant when it enhances relationship, which it doesn’t always do. Oftentimes religion becomes a deterrent to relationship. The Bible is filled with numerous religious people who missed connecting with God altogether. Sometimes we are so preoccupied with our religious ideologies and teachings and doctrines and principles, we fail to understand that what really matters the most in life is a relationship with God. It is from our foundational relationship with God that He gives us the privilege of having healthy relationships with our spouses, our families, our friends, and countless others.
It all starts with a relationship with God—that is the foundation for our lives that everything else must be built upon. If we try to build on any of these other relationships, we are building on quicksand, because at some point our relationship with our children will break down, our relationship with our siblings will break down, our relationship with our spouse will break down, and our relationship with our parents will break down. But our relationship with God is founded on a sure foundation, and we can deal with everything else once we stabilize that essential relationship.
Consider these opening words regarding creation from Genesis 1:1–8:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the m...