Sunday, May 16, 2010

enemies within

The Word for today: Philippians 3:12-21

Mark this: 3:18-19
For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

The cross is in the news again. It seems like it faces constant attack, litigation, debate, defacement or just plain old controversy.

Why is that?

What is it about the cross that has simultaneously blessed, repulsed, strengthened, divided and confused people throughout history?

Mormon teaching finds the symbol of a cross, "inharmonious with the quiet spirit of worship and reverence(1)"
Jehovah Witnesses believe that Jesus died not on a cross, but a pole, and see the cross as idolatrous.
Muslims hold that Judas, not Jesus, was crucified on the cross, in a case of mistaken identity.
Secular humanists seek to rid our culture of every public reference to the cross (This includes even trying to change the official city logo of  Las Cruces (NM), pictured above. All of this is odd seeing as Las Cruces means the crosses.)

It is easy to understand why opponents of the Christian faith would attack the cross-it is THE central message of the Gospel. But the problem is not so much with those who are outside of Christianity. The problem is that many of us within Christianity have become enemies of the cross ourselves.

Why would any Christian want to do so?
I think the primary reasons revolve around control and comfort. We like to be in charge, we like life as easy as it can be; but the message of the cross is diametrically opposed to either of those. Our world is focused around the here and now. The god of this age is an uncontrolled lust after whatever makes one "happy" the gluttonous pursuit of any and every appetite. And we don't even feel guilty of any of our depravity, instead we celebrate the very things that ought to cause us shame.

That's not a good road to take and it only leads to destruction, as stated in today's verses.
The scary thing about all of this is how tempting it is to construct a cross-less religion that promises us total fulfillment and and demands nothing from us. Many have already chosen to journey along that primrose path.

The real battle for the cross is NOT external (against other religions or non-religions), but within the walls of every church and within the heart of every Christian. Everyday I am face with the following choices:
- Will I live for the Kingdom of God or for the here and now?
- Will I submit to the Lord Jesus or will I be my own ruler
- Will the driving force in my life be to please God or to feed my own appetites?
- Will I be a friend or foe to the cross?

Too often, I have chosen to go against the very instrument that has saved me.
But I have good news. There is hope for enemies of the cross!
Simon Peter went from “Get behind me Satan!(2)” to “Feed my sheep(3).”
Apostle Paul went from “blasphemer and persecutor and a violent man(4)” to “God’s chosen instrument(5).”

When we embrace the "weakness" and "foolishness" of the cross, we can see God's power operating out of our insufficiencies for His glory. Always remember:
"The cross cannot be defeated, for it is defeat (6)."


(1) Mormon Doctrine p. 172
(2) Mark 8:33
(3) John 21:17
(4) 1 Timothy 1:13
(5) Acts 9:15
(6) GK Chesterton.

No comments:

Post a Comment