I was meeting with a couple who seemed pretty convinced that the other person in the marriage was the problem. They were articulate and clear about how the other person was messing up the relationship. They had their facts straight and, for the most part, they were not wrong in their accusations. It seemed to matter little which angle I took to try to get them to think and act like Christians. Both of them had just enough information on the other person to justify their positions of rightness.
Finally, after several attempts to get them to see the self-deception of their positions, I gave up any further hope for a ceasefire. From my chair, no progress was going to be made on that day. They were too mad, too self-justified, too hurt, and too stubborn to change. At that point I recommended they continue their fighting. Yes, I told them to continue their anger toward each other.
But under one condition. I said they could fight, but I would choose the location for all their future fights.
Climb the Hill and Duke It Out
I asked them to climb Golgotha’s Hill, where our Savior was scorned by the multitudes and judged by His Father (Matthew 27:32-44). Calvary is the place where the crucified Son of God became sin for this angry-fighting couple (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ took their sin and willingly gave up his life to the judgment of His Father so they would not be judged by His Father.
I asked them to position themselves so the Cross would come between them. I wanted them to get close enough to the Cross such that, if it were possible, the very blood of the dying Lamb of God would drip on them. I asked them to intentionally look upward at different times during their conflict so that while they were wounding each other they would see and be reminded of the One who was wounded for them (Isaiah 53:5).
My hope was that the wooden beam would be an impediment to their blows; that they would have to reach and stretch around the Cross in order for the other person to experience the pain intended from their enemy. I wanted them to see the Cross before they saw their enemy (spouse).
Most assuredly the Cross was not central and preeminent in their thoughts. Christ was on the periphery of their lives as they regularly argued, criticized, and devoured each other. The Cross of Christ was marginalized and muted.
The diagram in this article is what I sketched for them. I wanted them to visually see, feel, experience, and understand the historical fact of the dying Lamb of God. I wanted the Holy Spirit to burn the truth of the Gospel deep into their minds. I wanted them to be affected by the realities of the Cross of Christ.
Does the Cross of Christ Affect How You Argue?
Perhaps you get angry at your spouse, or your children, or certain acquaintances. I do. Does the Cross of Christ affect how you fight? Does it alter or temper your frustration toward others? Can you stand and take in the realities of the Cross and proceed to easily and un-forgivingly convict, judge, and condemn those who hurt you?
How does the Cross of Christ affect you? The quickest and most sustainable way to reconcile with those who hurt you is through the Cross of Christ.
- How can you or I treat others in such a way that God does not and will not treat us because He has already treated His one and only Son the way we should have been treated (John 3:16)?
- How can you or I hold judgment or hurt against others when Christ refuses to hold any kind of judgment against us?
- Are you being affected daily by the Cross of Christ?
- What is your motive for forgiveness, whether it is attitudinal or transactional forgiveness? Is it the Cross?
If the Cross of Christ is not your motive for forgiveness, then you will be like the battling couple I have described in this article. Notice what Paul said in Ephesians 4:31-32 as it pertains to the proper motive for forgiveness:
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (ESV).
What was Paul’s motive for letting all bitterness and wrath and anger go? What was his motive for forgiveness, kindness, and tenderheartedness toward another person? It is found in this statement: “as God in Christ forgave you.” Paul tied his motive to the Gospel, the Cross of Christ and calls each of us to do the same.
Join the Conversation
How does the Cross of Christ alter and influence your arguments and disagreements? Does the Cross of Christ come between you and others?