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. -- 1 Corinthians 1:18
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
The Cross and the Single Christian
The truth has a tendency to interfere with our fun, so we think. The cross, in particular, seems to be a challenge for us to accept. One of the things that adds to our struggle is the disdain in which so many around us hold the reality of Christ crucified. Man wants to be able to figure out his own way of living, control his own destiny, and find his own way of salvation. The cross empties human ambition and achievements of their glory.
When we receive the gospel and the light that it gives, we begin to see the transience of so much that enraptured us in the past. What we thought vital when in darkness is seen through and understood as no longer having significance. As worldly wise we perhaps valued the acclaim of the crowd and the cachet of our positions and possessions. Seen from the perspective of the cross and eternity, the crowd is made up of fickle fools and all that we have is dissolving in rust and ruin.
It does seem like foolishness when we look at how God wants to save the world through blood and death and suffering. The intellectual stumbles upon this and calls it accursed by his rejection of it. How can one save his life by losing it? How can we be unburdened by bearing the cross? How can we be righteous by laying aside our own righteousness?
Here is God becoming weak, taking on flesh and submitting Himself to an ignominious death, crucified as a slave and criminal. Yet in this death is life, and through this apparent weakness is the ultimate revelation of God in all His might and power and wisdom and glory.
Mankind was enslaved and held captive by death. I’m sure I do not have a full understanding of what that means, but I can see that life appeared to be defeated by death. This dark terminus marked all our efforts, all our ideas, all of our intellect and understanding as futile for the individual.
Apart from Christ, death makes a mockery of you and I as persons. We are meaningless. The only thing that matters in a Christ-less world is our genetic material and our contributions to the perpetuation of the species. And even that, if we look far enough, is vanity, as the Preacher would say.
The Cross shows us the death, so to speak, of death. To God it is the individual who matters most of all. Nations, tribes, peoples, races, ethnic groups, the human race itself – these are the transitory.
You will live forever. I will live forever. This truth puts the lie to the idea of “the greater good”, of a merely Darwinian and natural survival of our species. Christianity is anti-statist, anti-collectivist.
As Christians we practice love and kindness and goodness and forgiveness, not to the tribe or the nation or the race, but to the neighbor, to my sister and my brother. God doesn’t save Rome. He saves a Roman, and another, and another … because nations pass away but the soul of a man never dies.