Stadium Saints - A ... The Hovering Cross

(Please read the brief Introduction if you are not familiar with the flow of this series.)

Suspended invisibly high above a vast Stadium is a lone and watchful Observer. His panoramic view is completely uninterrupted. Below He witnesses a most curious wedding reception centred on a Groom standing at the head of a flat hovering cross. There are scores of nearly-empty tables decked with a hitherto unseen cloth finery, stunning and shimmering silver utensils all laid perfectly beside crockery that can only be described as out of this world.

Busily filtering around the Stadium are those captured in their own self-important world and fighting battles which are legitimate to only themselves.  They are culpably oblivious to a real world outside their Stadium. They are not aware of a world under constant evil assault, nor can they see or know the fresh wineskins of God's work outside.

The extent of the Stadium is so broad that none even know they are in it. One side cannot be seen from the other. Even the grandstands are unnoticed by those conducting their religious life on the playing field. There are no humans on the grandstand seats, although the seats are comfortably full. (No one wants to watch this spectacle - there is no human entertainment here.) Instead the forces of evil are eagerly engaged in watching from these seats, even interfering in the confusion and misadventure before their wicked eyes.

Mingling unhindered, they leave their grandstand seats. These forces are spilling over the low fence and mixing imperceptibly on the field. The first agent over the fence is Pride, quickly followed by Death. Each evil expedition has its own task.  Jealousy appears and establishes stumbling blocks among the Stadium dwellers' relationships. Poor Theology shouts with a clarion call so the educated will engage in argument and leave Ill-Will so many other Stadium dwellers may fall. Also appearing and sowing among the Stadium dwellers is Lethargy, Comfort, and People-Pleasing. The agent of Injustice is active, sister to the work of Condemnation. Only One on the playing field sees these agents of destruction but almost all unwittingly welcome them.

Sad and alone at the center of the Stadium stands a regally dressed and steely composed Groom. He is surrounded by countless near-empty but perfectly set banquet tables. His bride, seemingly unaware, drifts around these tables constantly, never taking a seat. Those seated at the tables had not welcomed the agents of malevolence.

The Groom is not barking out instruction, but gently inviting calm so that His bride may stop to be with Him and get to know Him. His appeals and invitations repeatedly fall on unresponsive ears. His deep desire is for His bride to share and enjoy His presence. However, while He is mingling amidst them, His presence appears strangely absent to His bride.  She is far more consumed in the distracting internecine battles than their banquet. The Groom chooses to banquet while the bride chooses to battle. These battles she mistakenly believes are for Him. He has her activity but not her attention. He has her hands but not her heart.

His bride enjoys little cohesion. There are ancient confederations and various teams assembling almost randomly together against a perceived enemy also within the Stadium. They attack and resist this enemy until all become exhausted. The battle dissipates until their energy returns.

The brief respite complete, the saints arise again and attack their enemy. Same old words, same old strategies, and same old lack of victory. No position of superiority or victory is ever gained by either side, although they both believe they are victorious.
The Groom sees much of His bride also engaged in other activities that He has not requested.  She pleads with Him for success, and He yearns for her to listen. She does not notice the battles within, for she is too consumed with her own activity. Guests sue guests. Guests squabble over property and pennies. Stewards for the banquet argue about theology and who should serve the top table, fully distracted from simply serving the Groom. Some stewards have even become angry at the other stewards for interfering with their ambition or activities. Each guest is deeply focused on their work and war.

This is plain to see for the lone and now saddened Observer still suspended invisibly above the Stadium. This Observer also witnesses, next to the Groom, a life size cross, elevated about a meter above the ground, but lying flat on its back. (It appears to hover, although it has no engines and is perfectly still.) This cross has become an altar. It is continuously red stained and it disturbs the Observer greatly.

Gathered around this cross-altar are various stewards and saints. They come and they go. Many stay great lengths of time in study of the copious words on the cross. The Groom stands by at the top of this altar watching but unnoticed. Interrupting their diligent study are blood stains obscuring the words on the cross. Persistently these studious saints wipe away each blood stain as it reappears.

The Groom stands so patiently at the top of the cross, a tear arising in His eye as yet another saint pushes past Him – or even pushes Him aside – to assiduously study the words imprinted on the cross. He sees His blood wiped away yet again. It will always return for that is the nature of the cross; a permanent blood sacrifice once and for all. The Groom actually sees great joy spread across the faces of these saints as they wipe His blood away to reveal more words. They are so adept with their cleansing action, they are oblivious to the fact they are even doing it. His blood they ignore.

In a still small voice (for the Groom shouts at no one), He repeats to deaf ears and proud minds, “These are the words that speak of me, but you refuse to come to me to have life.” Their focus is so strong that they will not even permit His blood to be an impediment to their study.

At irregular intervals, a saint arises from a banquet table where the saints who are attentive to the Groom sit still and unmoving in His presence. With a loving kindness they approach the saints still cleaning and studying the cross-altar. With words of grace and hearts of tears, they bravely appeal to these saints to give their attention to Him.

Wilfully the students and the stewards turn; united they act. The well-meaning saints are quickly sacrificed on the altar before them. Death stands silently smiling at the foot of the altar. Death is unobserved by the Stadium saints, but torturously watched by the Groom. Unable to withhold His tears, He stands motionless. Righteousness and Relationship are again sacrificed on the altar of Correct Thinking. Righteousness has now been sacrificed to the words on the cross.

Still, the study continues unabated. Some students leave the altar to recruit more saints to their cause. Death's smile broadens, Pride now standing again at his side. In fact, everyone is smiling except the Observer, the Groom, and the small handful of seated guests.

From the grandstand the forces of evil smile with a pernicious glee. Against their malevolence in this world there is no threat from His bride. This bride is too intent on destroying her own marriage to be able to destroy them or even witness their work.

Mingling invisibly throughout the Stadium, these malicious agents ply their noxious work. To all who believe, there is ample evidence of their activity and their presence. Those at the cross-altar are too engaged in study to see. Disbelief is the real enhancer of the agents of malevolence; it is the greatest camouflage in the arsenal of evil. Christian self-confidence is the unseen asset to evil. While the carnal rules the spiritual; evil will remain unchallenged.

All this the lone Observer watches with a soul-destroying sadness.

Traditions are fought for. Antiquity is to die for. Both traditions and antiquity are further fodder for strife upon the Stadium’s playing field. The spirit-filled guests within the Stadium actually sense a good and healthy newness; they understand “new wineskins,” but the educated naysayers soon discourage and dispel them. In retreat, the spirit-filled guests find their own codes to die for. And once found, they measure other guests by these proudly held codes. These codes though, are not ancient.

All the time, evil is quietly spilling out of the grandstand, over the low un-obstructive fence, and completely unobserved onto this vast playing field.

Filtering through the Stadium is the agent of Death. Soon the smaller guests and their confederations fall. Death stands watchfully over them, ensuring his work is complete. They will never be revived. The bigger and stronger guests at the Groom’s banquet gather around the permanently fallen and “tut-tut” as they find fault. There is no burial; dignity is lost and no rest is received.

Pride always precedes Death through this Stadium. The lone Observer watches Pride's work successfully striking blindness into all who receive His approaches. Pride is so busy within this Stadium it is unable to complete its work. In fact other guests see its work and pursue it. They unwittingly ask for its help in their battles. Death soon stands victoriously over them and their work. Foolishly they thought that this agent for evil would enhance their activity and bring victory in their battles. They were not aware why so many had fallen preceding them. Achievement for the Groom was their goal, not simply attention to Him.

Some guests, just a few, still remain seated at the beautifully adorned banquet tables. They are lonely but can hear the Groom.

The panorama the lone Observer commands also gives vantage to the world outside the Stadium. In the Stadium, He sees the Groom still quietly enjoining calm and goodness. He continues to invite relationship and righteousness to all who would listen (only those still and seated can hear Him). Outside the Stadium, the Observer sees goodness being established, calm descending, and new lights shining bright, as if the Groom is heard far more clearly outside His presence.

The bride is completely oblivious to these new lights that the Observer is turning on. She is unable to recognize them, bless them, or even invite them in. She does not know or even dare to believe that they exist. The bride is unable to see God at work because she is engaged in doing His work without first consulting Him.

The suspended Observer sees evil invading the Stadium, into the fair haven where only Mercy, Justice, Righteousness, and Grace should be found. Evil is safe because the bride does not even believe it exists. The bride continues to see none of this. Surrounded by evil, witless as to its existence and assaults, she continues to fight herself. Evil mingles freely, constantly unobserved and unchallenged.

The Observer is not hindered, however. He is alive, active, well, and winning! He is not dependent on the bride. In fact, the Observer ensures that as the spirits of evil increase in their activity so too the Holy Spirit of the Groom increases His activity.

Soon the Groom will be surrounded by dead guests. He will leave the Stadium inviting the attentive and the still to follow Him. In fact, He is turning and walking now. He will never harm His bride. He loves her so much that it cost Him Calvary.

Reluctantly the Groom will release His bride to harm herself. Her deaf ears, her inattentiveness, and her busyness for Him have become her downfall. She does not even see Him leaving nor does she see those already seated following Him. All this, the bride does not know nor can be told.

Grooms look for attention, this bride only gives activity.

MATTHEW 25:1-11


ENJOY Stadium Saints - B


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