No cross, no crown
It is saying the obvious when we remark that our world is being visited with calamity unceasingly. Only on Tuesday in Nicaragua, 280 persons lost their lives in protests against the government of Daniel Ortega, the President. Mind-blowing things have been occurring in own land which perplex all well-meaning people. Terrorists still strike, driving cold shivers down our spine. Herdsmen and bandits overrun lands, killing and setting homes ablaze with reckless abandon in the wee hours of the night. Those from whom help and succour are expected strangely blame the victims. Priests and some other concerned citizens rush to give words of encouragement to the bereaved, oxygen bags to the despairing and healing to agitated souls.
It is not only in conflict situations that soothing words of love and compassion go out. When a person is dispirited, afflicted by terrifying illness, or weighed down by economic difficulties with the attendant financial pressure, neighbours or onlookers in apparent empathy are heard urging him to persevere, his travails would soon blow over, and he would soon get there—the longed-for glorious end. The admonition that then follows is, where there is no Cross, there is no Crown. Simply put: No Cross, No Crown. The statement is made as a strengthening tonic for a man who has evidently been working hard, but for whom there has not been much to show for his exertions. Tough times do not last, tough people do, he is told admonishingly. There is sometimes reproachful bewilderment about the love of God and His justice as people throw up their hands in resignation. To sustain hope in the struggle, it is not infrequent that the beleaguered is told, “No Cross, No Crown;” the ways of the Most High, God, is inscrutable. The message often intended in the admonition is that a crown cannot be won without one having to undergo deprivations and suffering. To have gold, there must be heat.
While the statement No Cross, No Crown may be axiomatic, the interpretation that is often given to it is far from a self-evident truth. The Cross is often equated with suffering; that it is synonymous with harrowing experiences. In other words, if we reframe it, what we have is without suffering there can be no Crown. That is, “No Suffering, No Crown.” This is a distortion of the concept and meaning of the cross which must have had its origin in the execution and suffering of the Lord Christ on the cross. While it is correct to observe that to win a crown, suffering may be entailed or called for, it does not necessarily follow that every crown has been worn through suffering. Through exertion, through struggle, yes. But struggle or exertion is neither suffering nor punishment. They are meant to be joyful activities. Struggle strengthens; it promotes vigilance and alertness. Exertion is striving, not giving up, and it sets free. All life is struggle for it is governed by motion. Not to struggle would be tantamount to going against motion.
There is no standstill. So that one will not be left behind, he must find his balance in motion, he must obey the Law of Motion. This Law is everything. So important is it that even when we are fast asleep, we turn from one side to the other; we roll from one end of the bed to the other. To keep pace with this law, physicians entreat us to exercise our bodies. We jog, we play all manner of games, even that which exercises our mental faculty after which we feel refreshed and invigorated—re-energized. The sick is advised and encouraged to walk. The old walks round the house in response to the demands of the Law of Motion. During exercises we inhale fresh air, oxygen mediated by plants, and exhale carbon dioxide in obedience to the demands of the Law of Balance. The carbon dioxide is in turn transformed through photosynthesis into a fresh round of oxygen, the Nature Beings, the Elemental Forces at work in worshipful adoration of the Lord. Don’t we sometimes hear that trees and grasses bow?
When we fail to exercise ourselves the body weakens, its resistance diminishes or may altogether crumble. One is thus liable to all manner of diseases. It is often observed that when a man lies ill for too long on a bed, the possibility is high that he may lose the use of his limbs. He may be paralysed. A leg not used cannot be as strong as that of a footballer nor can a hand not exercised be as strong as that of a tennis player. It is not being suggested that a 70-year-old man should be found on the field playing football, or in a boxing ring. Such sport for an old man will lead to catastrophic consequences. Whatever exercise we may elect, it must be done in the measure of our capacity dictated by age and stamina. Exaggeration in sports may do damage to the body and may even shorten life. Come to think of it: What does it profit a man to be the fastest runner or best boxer in the world? Applause, yes, when it lasts; fame, yes; money, may be. As enlightenment from higher knowledge on earth today proves, they hold no enduring values for the development of mankind!
The brain that is not cultivated atrophies, although the development must be to such a degree that strikes a balance with the hind brain. It is this same Law that the Lord Christ draws our attention in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:29). When the three servants were called to give an account of how they had individually used the talents given to them. The first servant got five, the second, three and the third one talent. The first servant generated additional five, the second added two while the third simply buried the only one, giving excuses for not applying the one talent he received, one of the excuses being that he was afraid of his master who was a severe man. Matthew, Mark and Luke report that the only one talent was withdrawn from him and given to the first servant. In accordance with the Law of Motion, the talents which are cultivated and used flourish while the one that is buried is lost. It flows to one that knows how to apply his talents. ‘‘I tell you, that to everyone who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
The voice has to be practised to sing well. The fish that does not keep swimming will lose the ability to swim, and a bird that stops flying will suffer a similar fate. As it is with man, bird or fish so is it with animals which engage in what we regard as warfare, which serves to keep them awake, alert, their intelligence keener, and prepared for defence in case of attack.
Struggle should not be seen as cruel, but beneficial. It is what makes for progress, for attainment of the crown which is the purport of life—the Crown of life, the gift of eternal life which should, indeed, be the objective of our daily endeavours. A hardened fist does not shame, rather it leads to a noble end.
While struggle is demanded of every one of us, suffering is not. The distinction must be made between struggle and suffering. Contrary to a widely held notion, suffering is not ordained by our Maker. It is we human beings who have brought suffering on ourselves through our attitude to life, ignorance and misconduct towards the Order of life, that is towards the mechanisms governing Creation—The Law of Creation. Any deviation from order must necessarily lead to disorder. The Laws of Creation derive their validity in the Perfection of the Creator. They are the expression of His Will, a rough analogy of which we can see in the national or state laws being the expression of the wish of the law givers for harmony and orderliness in the land.
If suffering is not ordained, it follows that it cannot be related to the Cross. The Cross does not put any burden on any one. Rightly understood, therefore, the saying “No Cross, No Crown” cannot be interpreted to mean “No Suffering, No Crown.” The Creator does not place any burden on any human being, or on any creature for that matter, for suffering and evil are totally alien to Him. They are products of men on earth.
What then is the Cross? The Cross is the living form of Truth which has been in existence from all eternity. In other words, it preceded the earthly sojourn of man, and even his existence. It preceded Creation itself. Indeed, Creation issued out of the Living Cross, the Truth; that which is, the Changeless Reality, that alone that can say “I am.” Life Itself! Everyone else, everything else, every being, high or low, is a consequence of that which is eternal. That which is referred to as Life, the perfect Source of all that exists, Who is recognized by the activities of His Holy Will. Since everything radiates, and all forms arose from radiations, the Cross was formed from the living radiations of the Divine Will which was expressed in the Holy Word: “Let there be Light…” The Word’s radiation, being the living expression of the Divine Will, formed Itself into the Cross—four equal arms Cross.
Thus the Word is the Cross. Creation issued out of the Word, out of the Cross, the living form of the Word of Truth; out of Life. I do not wish to go further than this for now. It suffices at this stage to say the Cross is the living Sign of Truth, seen radiating powerfully by the specially gifted, behind the Lord Christ and the Dove above His Head, the Dove representing Power, while the Cross symbolizing Truth reveals His Identity, as the Part of the Almighty God—the All-Highest, as His Son. We can glean, therefore, from the foregoing the verity of Lord’s pronouncements: “I am the Truth and the Life…” “The Father and I are One.” The Father is Truth as Christ is Truth, the Former the Godhead, Jesus a Part, and completing the third leg in the Trinity is the Holy Spirit, symbolised by the Dove.
While Christ is Love, the Holy Spirit is Justice— the Law and Power.He who carries the Cross, therefore, is one who has resolved to follow the Word, the true Teachings of the Lord Christ, to follow the Truth. It is he who has resolved to absorb the Rays of Truth, and use them as His guide, and for the nourishment of his spirit. It is by living according to, and following the path shown in the Truth that leads to eternal life, the attainment of the Crown of life. Doing so frees one from perdition, from being cast out and thrown into the proverbial eternal damnation.
Thus, “No Cross, No Crown” means “No Truth, No Crown.” This was what was received ages ago which harbours profound truth. It is different from the distortion that has gone into its meaning in our times. This Cross is not perchance the well-known cross of suffering. It is the Cross of Truth, that is Life, that is the Holy Will, that is Power.