Summary: As Christians, we stand in a different place because of this Cross...what are we going to do about it?
“Here and Now We Stand Because of the Cross”
By: Rev. Kenneth Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
I will never forget it.
I was about eleven years old.
He was not a preacher.
He was the director of our Youth Choir.
He had no training in preaching.
His words were not polished or eloquent.
But I will never forget them.
He was asked to deliver the sermon one Sunday morning.
What he did was simply tell the story of Christ and Him crucified.
I can still hear his words about Christ…arrested…tried…
stripped…hands and feet nailed to a cross…side pierced…loud cry, “It is finished.”
That day, when the Youth Choir Director spoke, it was not his reasoning powers or any eloquence on his part that touched me so deeply…nor was it due to my own ability to rationalize and understand.
No, it is the power of love that this old but always new story releases whenever it is shared.
That love has touched and changed my life, as it has done for so many other people.
The heart of our faith is Christ and Him crucified.
When that simple…
…yet profound message is proclaimed and taught, it releases a power that changes people, in ways that the most learned and scholarly psychologists and philosophers of this world can only dream about!
In our Epistle Lesson for this morning, Paul is speaking about wisdom—true wisdom!
True wisdom is how God thinks, how God acts in the world through Christ.
For many people in the world who remain unconverted, this message sounds like foolishness.
But to those of us who have indeed heard, believed, and experienced “the message of the cross”…
…it is the power of God!
Just look at what happens in the lives of people when this message is preached and taught.
…Murderers become maryters…
…fighters become lovers…
…hate-mongers become peacemakers…
…drunks become evangelists…
…gang members become church members…
…and the list could go on and on and on!
The very power of God is let loose in those of us who are being saved by the message of the Cross!
As Christians, we are bound together by the ‘message of the Cross’…
…and here and now we stand in a different place because of this Cross!
After Jesus uses the analogy of the camel and the eye of a needle to present the odds of a rich person entering the kingdom of God, His disciples raise their voices in protest: “Then, who can be saved?”
To this Jesus responds: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Our hope never resides in our own efforts, but in the unimaginably foolish love of God.
And it is only foolishness when it is seen from the perspective of this world.
If we ask the world for the answers to our questions, we are doomed with the world’s answers…
…but when we come to God for our answers we obtain the ultimate wisdom!
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry…
…after His baptism…
…He immediately went into the desert, where He was tempted.
The basic temptations were power, prestige, and possessions.
He wrestled with these for forty days until Satan left Him…promising to return at the most opportune time.
And here in the desert we reach the depth of the gospel’s foolishness.
In our society power, prestige, and possessions are the basic promises that are advertised all around us as the rewards for living by society’s values.
But these things are foolishness to God, and they are foolishness to those of us who are being changed by the power of the Cross.
There is no escaping the seriousness of Christianity.
Either it is a stumbling block to people in our society…
…or the values of modern society are foolishness to the serious Christian.
It cannot be both ways.
Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson writes: “For our present age, in which the ‘wisdom of the world’ is expressed in individualism, narcissism, a preoccupation with private rights, and competition, the ‘wisdom of the Cross’ is the most profoundly countercultural message of all!”
It takes courage to trust in the message of the Cross because this means that we are going to be radically different than the world around us.
The crucifixion of Jesus began long before He was born.
It began in eternity…
…with a decision in the heart of God to journey from glory into poverty…
…from power to vulnerability…
…from awesomeness to nothing.
The God of the universe made a conscious decision to be born as a human baby in a finite world.
Marveling at this miracle of miracles, the apostle Paul writes in Philippians chapter 2:
Jesus “Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.