The Cross – Easter 2011
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:18
In a culture that does not believe in absolute truth, where individuals are encouraged to define themselves by their own rational determinations, the Cross is often stripped of its power on behalf of the individual. The Cross is no longer a symbol of God’s wrath being poured out on the spotless Lamb. It is no longer a reminder of our constant state of depravity. It is no longer something that humbles us under it’s own weight. It is an ornament we wear around our necks or a design on our t-shirts. It is a comfortable blanket that allows us to have a clear conscience as we pursue our own desires in this world. We want all the forgiveness and loves that is granted us by the Cross, but we want nothing to do with the refiner’s fire that allows us to truly experience the power of the Cross. To our culture the Cross becomes another way of alleviating our guilt so that we can continue to live as we have always lived. This is why the true word of the Cross is folly to our culture. This is why so many churches today refuse to preach the word of the Cross. This is why Christians in America are running the name of Christ through the mud for the sake of their own egos.
The message of the Cross drives us to our knees. Makes us cry out in horror at how often and how heinously we have profaned the Holy name of God. It is a message that forces us to forsake our former way of life on behalf of the life Christ wants to live in us. It draws us weeping into the throne room of God to bring Him worship and adoration that, since our birth, had been fully given to us even at times in His name. It makes us uncomfortable and uneasy. It beckons us to come and die. It reminds us of how dirty our best efforts have been. It even reveals how filthy our greatest accomplishments have been apart from Him. Those of us who have died have felt the sting of the Spirit crucifying our flesh. And the strangest thing of all is that once the Spirit has crucified the flesh, there is birthed within you a desire to see it die every day. You can’t stand knowing that it has survived the morning. And so we remember the Cross “carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:10).”
No one comes to know the joy of Christ’s resurrection without first feeling the sting of dying to himself. I am not suggesting that we somehow feel the punishment that Christ bore for us on the Cross. The punishment born for us was far greater than simply feeling pain of the scourge or the blows of the soldiers’ fists or the point of the nails or the suffering of hanging on the Cross. Christ bore our punishment, but we now must bear our cross. In bearing our cross, we gladly crucify what is worthless within us. The desires that distract us from Him and His glory are gladly sacrificed. The dreams that further our comfort and happiness at the expense of His glory are gladly laid aside. This looks different for everyone, but make no mistake all who have counted the cost and died to themselves to follow Christ have felt the sting of a crucified flesh.
Now we come to the power of God. Now we get to what allows a person to rejoice at the foot of the Cross. For the one who has had their eyes opened by the Spirit, who has felt the sting of their flesh being crucified, can now overflow with worship, thankfulness, joy and adoration at the God who has given Himself to such as we are. We rejoice that we will one day receive our reward, and our reward is HIM. How glorious a God we serve that sacrifices His Son to reconcile us unto Himself. This is the Gospel, the Good News. We who were once alienated and hostile in mind, have been reconciled through the Cross that we may take part with Him in His resurrection. Too many of those in churches this Sunday have overlooked or simply ignored the beginning portion of the Gospel presented here, and jumped straight to the end. In doing so, they have traded the truth of God for a lie. They have made themselves blind and would lead those who are also blind. Let us not forget that until all is fulfilled in Christ’s return or at our departure from this world, the Cross will ever be a place for broken, unrestored humanity to worship in tears and repentance, putting to death the flesh that resides in us in Hope and Faith that through the work of the Spirit we will one day receive HIM. Grace and peace,