ANOTHER LOOK AT THE CROSS
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The cross is the central symbol of our Christian faith. At the time of Christ’s crucifixion, it was not a religious symbol, or a piece of jewelry, it was a horrible symbol of suffering and shame. To the Roman world, it could be compared to the electric chair, the hangman’s noose, the gas chamber, or death by lethal injection. It was reserved for the worst element of their society. From man’s perspective Christ, was executed unjustly for crimes He didn’t commit. From God’s perspective, He suffered to fulfill the justice of God. He was a sacrifice, the representative of the fallen human race. A.W. Tozer preached about the radical nature of the cross. Here is some of what he had to say.
“The changed attitude toward the cross that we see in modern orthodoxy proves not that God has changed, nor that Christ has eased up on His demand that we carry the cross; it means rather that current Christianity has moved away from the standards of the New Testament. So far have we moved indeed that it may take nothing short of a new reformation to restore the cross to its right place in the theology and life of the Church.”
These words sound strangely familiar, and dare I say relevant, to the current trends in church. We try to make Christianity an easy way to live “your best life now” rather than requiring the modern Christian to pick up his cross and follow Jesus. When someone accepts Christ into his life, the cross should become central to what his new life is all about. This new life is not about being comfortable, popular, or even successful as most people would define it. Christianity will make your friends uncomfortable and may bring persecution and rejection from your family members. That is the very nature of this new life in Christ.
If Jesus told His followers to “to pick up their cross and follow Me” why should we try to change that now? When I first became a Christian, all of my supposed friends disappeared when they realized the changes in me were for real. Every now and then, over the years, one of these “friends” would reemerge to see if I was still following Christ, only to disappear again when they found the cross was still my life. Has your life changed enough to make a difference? If not, take another look at the cross, you might be surprised at what you find. If you look closely, you will find the key to happiness and satisfaction. It is not in the accumulation of possessions or titles that we find contentment in this life. Jesus said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul”. Where do I find this place of total contentment? You will find it the same place Jesus did, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”