We are given to sing most lustily and cheerfully "In the Cross of Christ I glory," without a thought of what Paul meant by glorying in the Cross, or what the words really imply. What we usually mean, if we mean anything at all, is that we glory in the wooden instrument of torture and death by which the Christ in some mysterious way paid the debt incurred by mankind. Mysterious because it is undeniable that we do reap what we sow, and are kept in the prisons of our own making until we have paid the uttermost farthing. Very few mean, as Paul did, that they glory in carrying the cross which Christ carried, the cross which forever crucifies the lower nature unto the world, the cross of misunderstanding, of loneliness, of desertion, of death. For if not physical death, always the cross means giving up one's life as He did. How many of us, if we thought at all, dare say we glory in the Cross of Christ in that fashion? And yet the central idea of the whole of Bible teaching is sacrifice, from Abel's offering which was accepted (i.e., it was the sincere expression of gratitude for the fruits of the earth, flowing naturally forth to the source of plenty, and as such carried a spiritual blessing with it) to the consummate sacrifice of Christ, who gave Himself, the just for the unjust—not vicariously, not to appease an angry judge with a ransom of suffering and blood, but as the Truth, the Way, the Life. Sacrifice is the only truth of life. By dying we live, by giving we get, by leaving all we find all—even ourselves. It is the only way of access to the All-Father, the only means of union with the universal life, for only by disowning, sacrificing, casting off the false self which continually clamors for recognition and indulgence, can we realize the presence within us of Him who is perfect love. And sacrifice is life, the only life eternal, for to sacrifice, to truly glory in the "Cross of Christ " is to come out of so-called self-pleasing which is death, to dwell in the universal life, and to realize the consciousness of the Christ who "came not to be ministered unto but to minister," and who, as the "firstborn among many brethren," has opened up a new and living way, even the way of the cross.
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves, are triumphs and defeat.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow