“My religious convictions and scientific views cannot at present be more specifically defined than as those of a believer in creative evolution. I desire that no public monument or work of art or inscription or sermon or ritual service commemorating me shall suggest that I accepted the tenets peculiar to any established church or denomination nor take the form of a cross or any other instrument of torture or symbol of blood sacrifice.”
Shaw, like so many of our day, viewed the cross and the religion of Jesus Christ as foolishness. Folks like him ridicule the notion that a man who died on a cross 2,000 years ago has a real meaning to our enlightened 21st-century society.
Paul’s observation of the erudite Greeks is applicable to our culture. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (! Cor. 1:18)
The paradox is that people who are perishing in the cesspool of sin reject the only means by which they can be saved. They mock, belittle and rant against Christianity and the message of the cross. All the while throwing off all moral restraints as they plunge headlong into every kind of perversion and self-destructive practice.
The message of the cross is the world’s only hope. And its message can be summed up in just four words.
(1) RECONCILIATION: The cross is a message of redemption and reunion with God.
Through sin, the human race is separated from God. Alienated from spiritual blessings. And estranged from fellowship from the Divine Family. The fact is that all have sinned (Rom 3:23), but the cross reconciles us. (Eph 2:16-18). Reconciliation produces peace in our lives. Peace with God. Peace within. Peace with our fellow man (Col 1:19-20).
(2) INCLUSION: The Cross a Message of Oneness in Christ.
The cross broke down racial, social, political, economic, and gender differences. In the cross, all are “made one in Christ Jesus”. Paul put it this way in Galatians 3:26-28. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The secular world today is seeking inclusion, but on the wrong basis. It is found in Christ. When people give up their sinful lifestyle and come to the cross to find cleansing through His blood, there is a special union, oneness and fellowship that we all experience.
(3) GRACE: The Cross is a Message of Unmerited Favor
It’s clear that we lack the ability to save ourselves. Salvation cannot occur through any human means or device. But God, through his gracious gift of Jesus Christ has provided a way for us to be saved from sin. God’s grace is a manifestation of his mercy and an expression of his love. The Bible says, “In (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of (God’s) grace” (Eph. 1:7).
(4) GOSPEL–The Cross is a Message of Good News
The word “gospel” literally means good news. The cross is central to the gospel message! It’s the heart and soul of our preaching. It’s fundamental to our faith (1 Cor, 15:1-4). Ironically when Jesus was on the cross, he was mocked; “He saved others and he cannot save Himself; Come down from the cross and save yourself.” But he stayed on the cross to save us.
The gospel is God’s saving power to all who believe, receive and obey its message (Rom. 1:16-17). The cross is a message that you don’t have to be subservient to Satan and subjugated to sin, and enslaved to carnal lusts.
There is help. There is hope. There is the message of the cross.
However, its message is based on God’s terms. Not ours. The Cross calls for change. Commitment. And conversion.
When you accept the message of the cross you will receive pardon from your sins, enjoy inner peace, experience spiritual power, find purpose in life and live in the hope of eternal paradise.
To the believer, the cross is not foolishness. It is the power of God. We celebrate it.
The 19th-century British minister, Alexander MacLaren was right when he wrote “The cross is the center of the world’s history; the incarnation of Christ and the crucifixion of our Lord are the pivot round which all the events of the ages revolve.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman