One of the beautiful images in Scripture is this idea of Christ living in us, living in Him, living in us. Like holy nesting dolls, our lives are fully wrapped up in this interwoven relationship of Christ and man, Christ and me.
But what is often forgotten is that the Christ who lives in us is also the Christ who dies in us. The Christ who lives in me is the very same Christ who dies in me.
Because I crucify Him.
Because I am the one who wants to test how far He will go. Because I am the one who keeps running as far east of Eden as I can, not knowing how far east I can run until I crash into west. Because I am the one who stretches out His hands and asks, How much do you love me?
And the Christ who lives inside me declares, This much.
The truth is that it's only in my heart, in your heart, in our hearts that Christ was ever willing to die. It wasn't on the side of the road; it was in the depths of man's souls. It wasn't on splintered wood; it was in splintered spirits. It wasn't at the hands of the Roman guard; it was at the hands of the faithful. It wasn't because of fear or hatred or politics; it was only ever because of love. Not all of the sin in the world could have held His arms open. Not the strongest nails could have held Him there. It was only love that could ever have crucified this Christ.
And love only lives in the heart.
No matter what I do, no matter what I've done, no matter how many times I've fallen or how many moments I've wasted or how many things I've broken, as long as I continue to make even the smallest place in my heart for Him, Christ comes to dwell in me. And no matter what I do, no matter what I've done...He continues to hold His arms open wide, ready to embrace all that I am. Ready to pour out His life into mine. For every drop of blood that falls from His crucified body here falls straight into my very heart and becomes the lifeblood of all that I am.
His blood mixes not with the ground, but with the very dust of which I am created. His very blood, mixed with mine, courses through my body with every beat of my aching heart. The beads of sweat that fall from His brow are the salt of life that preserves what is worthy in me. The love in His eyes pierces through my very soul, just as the fear in mine pierces Him. The tenderness in His voice echoes in the hollow chambers of my being, drowning out the echoes of my own agony.
Most people think the Cross took place on a hill outside the city, near a highway, on a Friday afternoon. And that's part of it.
But the Christ who died on that Cross is the Christ who dies in me. Because it is only in my heart, in your heart, in our hearts that Christ was willing to die. Of this, we can be sure, for it is the very place where the incarnated Christ has chosen to live.