SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CROSS

SUNDAY, AUGUST 5, 2012.

A Reflection On Diocese Of Warri Women’s Conference

BY

ERNEST ONUOHA

THE Women’s Conference of the Diocese of Warri was held at St Andrew’s Cathedral Church, Warri, under the theme, ‘Look, See and Live’ (Num. 21v8-9). It was a four-day spiritual epoch-making event, presided by wife of the Bishop of the Diocese, Mrs. Patience Ide. To the glory of God, the well-attended conference was a harvest of souls.

Mrs. Ide visits the Ibru Centre each year before commencement of the programme. She would come with some women to fast, pray and meditate on the word of God. This, she said, is a way of seeking God for all-round success.

Commenting on this year’s theme, she harped on two points: significance of the Cross, and salvation for everyone that believes. Speaking of the Cross, Mrs. Ide stressed: ‘A Great Sin was committed. The children of Israel were passing through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. They became grieved and discouraged about all that was happening to them. They complained against God about their circumstance. They had enemies fighting them on every side. God gave them Manna from Heaven when they were hungry. But still they were not satisfied’.

Complaining against God’s leading and provision amounts to complaining against God Himself. This was the GREAT SIN. It is a picture of man’s rejection of God’s Son and Saviour, the one who is called the True Bread from Heaven (John 6v32-33).

So, the Lord, in His anger, “sent fiery snakes among the people and they bit the people and many of them died” (Numbers 21v6). Christians, especially in Nigeria, should think deeply whether their ‘snakes’ are Boko Haram, armed robbery, kidnapping, ritual killings, famine, insecurity, untimely death etc.

Let it be noted that in order to save humanity, Jesus, the God-man and Paschal Lamb, came to reconcile man to God. He paid the supreme price on the Cross of Calvary that those who follow Him and have accepted Him as Lord and personal Saviour would not suffer eternal separation from God. Jesus chose the way of the Cross to bring perishing man to the shelter of the Lord’s house. No wonder, in Christianity, we are not ashamed to assert incontrovertibly: ‘No cross, no crown’. Simply put, ours is not a Cross-less Christianity but one littered with suffering and persecution, which must be endured with equanimity.

On the other hand, the reason He had to suffer and die was to provide salvation for the poor, the lost and helpless sinners. He, alone, is the Saviour of the world. He, alone, can help a helpless nation, like ours. Zechariah 1v11 says: ‘They reported to the angel, we have been all over the world and have found that the whole world lay helpless and subdued’. Are we not really helpless?

Mrs. Ide insists that we need to look carefully in order not to make a mess of the Christian life. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, was not careful.  Lot had a bitter experience later in life. But Abraham was more careful. The Lord told him: “From where you are, look carefully in all directions. I am going to give you and your descendants all the land that you see and it will be yours forever” (Gen. 13v14-15.) As Christians, are we careful about things we look for?

Whatever we see must be in agreement with the vision of God.     It becomes more compelling for us to ensure that we live within the divine programme of God. In the wilderness experience, those who looked at the bronze serpent lived and those who refused died. No doubt, when Jesus is lifted up, He will draw all men to Himself, especially those who accept Him. This will give rest to their souls.

Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Agbarha-Otor,
Delta State.

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