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The Cross

 
 
As Christians we wear crosses around our necks, on our lapels and in rings on our fingers. We decorate our homes with crosses, adorn our sanctuaries and place them high on steeples. Some Christians cross themselves in times of prayer or devotion. Pastors often make the sign of the cross over the congregation as a blessing or mark the foreheads of the newly baptized.
 
Why?
 
The cross literally becomes a “cross road” for the believer and non-believer. The believer being on the road to a crucified Christ who died for our sins to redeem those who believe. The non-believer finding all this ridiculous and choosing the road away from Christ and salvation.
 
I overheard a couple of teenage girls talking at a jewelry counter years ago where one of them was seeking to purchase a cross necklace and was perusing through the choices. She narrowed it down to five and then said, “I really like this one, but who is the little guy on it?” I unfortunately didn’t jump in, man I wish I had that moment back! You talk about a moment where Jesus invited me to join him, and I walked away from it! (By the way, this is Pastor Tyler and not Mario).
 
My “introvertedness” crippled my witness.
 
The cross of Jesus Christ is in the end, all we have. So, this historical event of Jesus’ death and resurrection is at the core of Christianity. Our faith is not based on a concept, a philosophy of life, a great teaching by some leader, or some new insight. Christianity is based on the historical reliability of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit through the Word of God brings us into a trusting that this crucified and resurrected Christ is our eternal Savior.
 
St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
 
I had another experience where an individual said to me, “I find the cross of Christ an affront to me.” This time I did not let the opportunity slip away and said, “To all of us as sinners it should be an affront, because it reveals the condition of our sinfulness that the Son of God would have to die to pay the penalty for our sin! As a believer, at the same time it is something to be praised as it reveals the vast unconditional love of God for us!
 
So, we turn to the cross, a disturbing image of brutal execution, and as believers we find comfort and hope. The awful Friday when Christ was crucified, we call Good. As the old hymn proclaims, “In the cross of Christ I glory!”
 
The Seven Questions:
1. If someone asked you why you were wearing a cross, what would you say?
 
2. Some Christians wear a crucifix (Christ still on the cross) some wear an empty cross. What do you think each represents?
 
3. Martin Luther once said, “Is it not wonderful news to believe that salvation lies outside ourselves?” What do you think he meant?
 
4. In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” What do you think He was talking about?
 
5. How does God show His love for us through the cross?
 
6. Where does the cross of Christ show up in your life?
 
7. How is the cross of Christ a “watershed moment” in human history?
 
Mission Focus:
Think about how the cross of Christ is important in your life and share with a friend your thoughts.
 
Your Thoughts: