Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is the Cross Offensive? What if I said yes?

For Christian the cross represents something beautiful; God's ultimate sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Yet to others the concept is truly offensive. You might site that so many people wear crosses as jewelry around their necks and say... "who's offended?" However, I would clarify that they often have no real connection with the cross that Jesus bore. Think for a moment of what it might mean if people took the symbol of the cross seriously. Imagine people wearing an electric chair (a devise of arguable torture and capitol punishment) around their necks, what might that be like? Imagine people wearing a slaughtered bloody animal sacrifice on a pendant. Ponder just for a moment wearing the most grotesque symbol of death and maybe you might get close to what the cross actually means. Although many so-called "enlightened" people are offended by the concept of the barbarism of the cross, many on the other hand simply choose to ignore it or never go deep enough to discover what it truly means. Nevertheless, if they actually considered the full weight of the Cross of Christ I guarantee you that many would rip the symbol from their neck in hatred.

So why would I say such a thing? Well, it is because in truth the Cross stands in contrast to every fiber of the human being. Many do not admit that they have committed any fault in life, and even less believe that they need any forgiveness of sin. Yet these are at the very heart of the need of the Cross of Christ. However, perhaps the most emphatic teaching of the Cross of Christ is the most offensive yet. You will be hard pressed to deny you are not offended.

You see, just this past Sunday my pastor spoke on this very same matter. As I listened my mind wandered a moment to one of the most moving paintings I have ever seen. It was a painting by Rembrandt. In this painting the famous artist with all his skill did something so surprising and humiliating that any modern person would have to gasp. I personally recall my first emotions upon seeing the painting. It was a startling mix of surprise, anger and then finally an overwhelming astonishment at the wisdom in what he did.

So just what did he do? Rembrandt painted a dark scene of pain and anguish depicting the savior Jesus Christ being crucified with tones and colors so realistic for the time that anyone would be overwhelmed by the humanity of the act being portrayed. Yet more than this he did something else... he painted himself into the picture participating in the act of crucifying Christ. He literally depicts himself assisting in raising the Cross of Christ high toward heaven to where it will slide down with a muscle tearing thud into it's stone rock pedestal. Rembrandt was very vividly saying in his painting, "I killed him! I killed him! It was my sin, I killed him! Yet, he willingly died for me."

So now with this we move to the most offensive claims of the Cross of Christ. You see if God sent His Only Son into the world to die for mankind then it should not be surprising that He would be the only way to cleanse the sins of mankind. What other option would God give if He gave the most precious thing that He had?

You see Christianity is an absolute belief system. It teaches One God, One Faith, One Savior and Him Alone. Jesus as the founder of our faith exclusively proclaimed, ...“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6 There are many who seek to revise this idea, dismissing the exclusive claims of Jesus, yet this is not the Jesus of the Bible.

While many of these people try to depict this sort of religious belief as "hate", the ironic thing is that Jesus "first loved us" and we first hated him (verse 30 "haters of God").

"but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

So now finally is the Cross of Christ truly offensive? Scripture states this quite clearly as well. While we desire that people will see the beauty of the Cross of Christ and the love of God for them, unfortunately many will not understand and will perceive it as foolish. Thankfully, it is God alone who is Lord over the harvest of souls.

"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."

For more on this read my pastor's blog here

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