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Transformed by the cross

A message for Easter from the international leader of The Salvation Army, General André Cox

Transformation is such a powerful word

AS we approach another Easter, the message of God’s restorative and redemptive love is as powerful and relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.

The cross is central to our Christian faith and gospel message. It is integral to everything we believe and is our motivation in reaching a dying world with the message of hope, love and salvation. The cross is purposely located at the centre of the Salvation Army crest.

Each of us needs to have a personal interaction with the cross as our place of repentance for sin – turning away from our wrongdoing – where we receive restorative grace and the opportunity to begin a new life in Christ.

The cross is transformative as God’s love, grace and forgiveness are unleashed in our lives. As Salvationists, we know this. We preach this. The key question is: do we always experience the power, reality and transformation of the cross in our own lives?

Transformation is such a powerful word. We use it in our worship and Bible studies, but also again and again in reports of The Salvation Army’s practical ministries.

Across Europe, for instance, people are undergoing transformation from being refugees to established members of their new community. This doesn’t happen by accident – Salvationists and friends are working with people who arrive with nothing, often having been through terrible hurt and hardship. They offer practical assistance in many ways, but also spiritual and emotional support. To these people – most of whom are not Christians – our Salvation Army team members are living representations of Jesus Christ.

Also, in many places around the world, people who are trapped in the horror that is human trafficking are being transformed from slaves to free men, women and children. In God’s name, Salvation Army team members are working with these victims of modern slavery, providing a safe haven and access to professional health and support services and ensuring that they can start a new life without fear of reprisal.

Or I think of our thousands of Salvation Army schools with hundreds of thousands of students whose lives are being transformed through their receiving an education that most would not be able to afford otherwise. In God’s name, they are being given the tools to liberate themselves from the cycle of poverty.

As Christians, we engage in these works of transformation because we ourselves have lives of victory and strength through the cross.

Of course, Good Friday and the cross is only one part of the Easter narrative. Praise God the story does not end with a dead saviour! We worship a risen Lord who cancels the curse of sin and renders it powerless. Defeat is exchanged for victory. Weakness is exchanged for strength. The old self is left behind and the new self is  embraced. Eternal life and resurrection power are the free gift to every believer!

The glorious reality of Easter morning is symbolised by the empty tomb. ‘He is not here; he has risen’ were the words of the angel (Matthew 28:6 New International Version). Nothing can constrain God – not sin and certainly not death. The events of Easter demonstrate the sovereign power of God, who intervenes in our physical and spiritual realities. Not just then, but also in the here and now.

As we stand metaphorically at the foot of the cross we can be sure that sin has been defeated. On our journey from the empty tomb we can be certain that death has lost its power. Cross to resurrection; death to life – what a glorious transformation!

This Easter, may each one of us know God’s love, forgiveness, grace and power as we experience Jesus’ risen presence in our lives. My prayer for you is that you take hold of this power for yourself – then share our Lord’s amazing blessing of true freedom with a world that is in desperate need of transformation.

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