Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Cross of Christ

Ours is a society that likes its symbols and logos. Athletic gear with the logos of college and pro sports teams is popular and expensive. The United States has several symbols: “Old Glory,” “Uncle Sam,” and the American eagle. And through the years the cross of Jesus Christ has become a popular and familiar icon. The cross has long been a popular symbol for the Christian community, used to decorate church facilities and Christian paraphernalia. However, in recent times the cross has become trendy and fashionable. What was once viewed as the most cruel and shameful of all punishments, meant to brutally punish offenders and vividly intimidate others, is now a fashion accessory worn by athletes, New Agers, and music stars. Many see the cross as just another religious trinket, no different from the Star of David or a Buddha statue. Do people have any idea what the cross represents?

Christian author Erwin Lutzer writes about meeting a “thirty-something” lady during a flight. He noticed she was wearing a cross on her necklace so he commented, “We really do have a wonderful Savior don’t we?” The lady rolled her eyes, and said that she “understood” the cross differently than he did. Then she showed him two other religious symbols that were dangling behind her cross. “I’m in social work.” She explained. “The people I work with find God in different ways. Christianity is just one way to the divine.” (Cries from the Cross; Chicago: Moody Press, 2002, 14-15).

Obviously, the cross is misunderstood, because it can never be united with other religions, philosophies, or human ideas. It stands alone. The message of the cross is offensive and despised by a culture that is tolerant of everything except the truth. The truth is that we are sinners, unable to reconcile ourselves to God. Our sin pays wages: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23; running up a debt only the shed blood of Christ on the cross can cover
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins - Matthew 26:28...Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many - Hebrews 9:28...For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. - 1 Timothy 2:5-6.

The central message of Christianity is the cross. The cross is the point to which all roads in the past converge and roads to the future diverge. The Old Testament writers prophesied about the cross and the New Testament Christians proclaimed the cross! The cross is evidence of God’s holiness and unfathomable love for us while also revealing our uncleanness. The message of the cross is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:17).
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 1 Peter 1:19-21 (cf. Isaiah 53:10)

The cross is so much more than a symbol. It is how the perfect, sinless Son of God was offered up, completing the foreordained plan of redemption .


Fresh Dirt said...
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Fresh Dirt said...

Right on! The old rugged cross has now become a piece of gold bling for rap and sport stars. Most people, including many Christians, do not understand the cross at all. Those who do understand the sacrifice of Jesus still often miss that to follow Jesus means that we take up the cross as well-- that to follow Jesus is to follow him down the same road. That road challenged the principalities and powers of his day (both devils/demons and Rome/Sanhedrin) that were enslaving his people. That road offered freedom from the way of death-- the road that most of us march on each day-- to THE way of life-- a radically different road that involves being around the wrong kinds of people, challenging the powers that be, angering the religious, and seeking to suffer with others rather than finding success by using others. Such is the way of the cross that Christ, the firstfruit of such a FAITH lived out, and we too as those who come after him.

Travis said...

Well said, Justin!