Cross equals love.
This simple three-word statement took form more than a decade ago as we sought to create words that would frame the miracle of Easter and be something that would encourage a seeking world to look heavenward. The words have taken on their own identity and familiarity as our own global church and others have jumped on board, but what I love most is the profound simplicity and truth of the message. These words are in essence the purity of the Gospel (John 3:16) finding expression on posters and invitations, billboards and across skylines where teams have found innovative ways to share the story.
The events of the past twelve months have challenged many aspects of life. Many will agree that freedoms we have often taken for granted, will never be taken for granted again. The wholistic nature of community, family, milestone celebrations, and even the ability to break bread and share table together, have all been compromised. And for those who value faith and the redemptive nature of worship, even this simple freedom has been affected. However, there are many things that remain unshakable even in a changing landscape. The message of the cross has endured centuries of human experience and will continue to do so. No trial or tribulation, pestilence or challenge can alter its truth or miracle working power. Establishing foundational truths in our own personal walk is what enables us to not only survive in times like these, but thrive.
Cross equals Love. What does it mean to understand and experience the fulness and depth of God’s love? The Apostle Paul prayed that we (with both feet firmly planted) would know “the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love”; that we would “reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God”. (Ephesians 3:14-19 MSG). Did you notice these verses are not passive? They speak of transaction and exchange. God’s redeeming grace is immediate when we open our heart to Jesus and receive him as Saviour and Lord, but to grow and progress in that same love and redeeming grace is active. The length, depth and height are only experienced when we hunger and thirst and press on to develop relationship with God.
Love equals Cross. You may have noticed within this year’s campaign, a slight mirror-reversal of the words. This play on words, is a deeper exhortation to not merely receive of His love, but actively love in return — whether that means bearing your own cross (or sacrifice of devotion) for the One who saved and called you, or bearing a cross (or burden) that enables others to receive of God’s goodness also. As Christ-followers, our response is to love even as Christ loved… a love brimming over in mercy and grace, forgiveness, and loving-kindness; a love marked with inclusion and embrace, tolerance and forbearance, truth and justice; a love that bears witness of God’s fullness that enables people to rise from whatever has held them down to a life of purpose and meaning.
As one who has been in ministry for many decades now, I think most people are in pursuit of what is true, trustworthy, and lasting. This “pursuit of the human heart” is only truly satisfied when revelation of the cross is entered into. At the request of the Father, Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, came from heaven to earth to rescue, redeem and restore. Each and every one of us is written into this storyline and this salvation grace is available to all — so my prayer for you is that you will have the courage and boldness to reach out and experience it in all its fullness.
Remain safe and strong this weekend. Enjoy time spent with friends and family, and if you find yourself alone this Easter, be reminded that there is a very present God in Heaven who is neither distant nor removed from your circumstances. He is closer than you know. And as always, our doors are open and you are welcome to join us, either in the room (see crossequalslove.com for locations and times), or online at hillsong.com/online.
With love and blessing,