We’ve just finished a very intense and Spirit-filled festival here at the Jesus Army in the UK, and the theme for the three-day event was “A Cross-Centered Church”. One of the most charasteristic things with the Jesus Army is our red crosses. Sadly, the cross has to many become a piece of jewelry, pieces of gold and silver which middle-class Christians hang around their necks to pretend to follow Jesus’s words in Luke 14:27 while they go on with their Mammon lifestyle. The Jesus Army just uses simple material as wood and plastic, and paints it all red to remind people on the blood of Jesus. A true cross isn’t a shiny golden relic, but a tool for torture and execution.
Jesus Army’s motto is “Love, power and sacrifice”, and on this cross-centered conference the focus has been on the latter. Why have Jesus Army succeeded with still practicing community of goods 40 years after it started when so many other Christian communities have ended after less than ten years? Well, they have emphasized from the beginning that it requires commitment and sacrifice. Jesus spoke a lot about denying yourself and leaving stuff behind when you’re following Him. He’s not calling us to comfortability, but to commitment.
A cross-centered church is a Jesus-centered church, and it’s not the cosy, lamb-petting Jesus that you see on postcards but the naked, wounded, dying Jesus with nailed hands and a pierced heart. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”, He said (John 15:13), and He truly showed it by dying for us so that we through His blood may receive eternal life. He died our death so that we may share His life.
The cross is painful and sacrificial, but just because of this it also brings a lot of glory, power and joy. The darkness of calvary is followed by the shining light of the empty grave. On the festival, we heard about how a cross-centered church is also a Spirit-filled church. Those who make huge sacrifices will se huge miracles. This is for example true for brother Yun, the Chinese pastor who have been imprisoned and tortured several times, but also witnessed amazing healings, visions and have survived a fast for 74 days when he didn’t eat or drink anything. Or Heidi Baker, who is supposed to be dead both because of MS and tropical diseases, but who still is very much alive and pray for blind people who see and deaf people who hear in Mozambique.
I will wear my red cross around my neck for the rest of my life, because nothing else have I found that brings so much life than this deadly execution tool. It has brought me salvation, healing and freedom, and I’m well asure that all sacrifices I make for the Kingdom will give a giant reward in Heaven.
Here you can see what happened at the festival.