Summary: Many baptized believers attempt to avoid offending the world by not standing up for the cross because they feel they'd risk too much by doing so. But we've died supposedly died to this world and its attractions. How can we do that?
OPEN: Clarence Jordan, author of the "Cotton Patch" New Testament was getting a red-carpet tour of another preacher’s church. With pride the minister pointed to the rich, imported pews and luxurious decorations. As they stepped outside, darkness was falling, and a spotlight shone on a huge cross atop the steeple.
"That cross alone cost us ten thousand dollars," the minister said with a satisfied smile.
Jordan looked up at the cross and said:
“You got cheated. Times were when Christians could get them for free.”
Time was you could get a cross for free.
But most people back then didn't want one.
Crosses back then were the way Romans executed criminals.
These days we wear crosses as jewelry.
Crosses decorate the walls of our homes.
Churches have embedded them into their stain glass windows and they place them on spires that advertise to the world that this is a church.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Using crosses in this way is an excellent way to declare to the world who we belong to and what we believe, But using crosses so freely tends to make us forget what crosses were all about.
Crosses were instruments of death.
It was THE MOST horrid way to die ever conceived by man.
Some people have compared the Cross of Christ to our modern day executions by electric chairs. But people who've died in electric chairs generally died in a matter of moments. By contrast, those who hung on crosses often slowly died over hours or even days.
Imagine if you will, wearing a an electric chair for pendant. Or decorating your house with pictures and plaques showing an attractive electric chair. Or putting an electric chair on the spire of a church building.
How appealing would that be do you think?
The cross was an instrument of death - that’s how criminals died.
And yet Jesus said take up your cross daily and follow me.
You know what Jesus was saying?
He was saying I want you DEAD.
I want you dead… to this world
I want you to be so dead to this world that it doesn't attract you anymore.
That’s what we were taught when we became Christians.
Romans 6:2-6 says “… don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.
ILLUS: Now I want you to put on your “sanctified imaginators” for a moment, because I couldn't get this prop for today. I want you to imagine a corpse up here on stage. I tried to get one from the morgue… but for some reason they wouldn't let me have one, so you’re just going to have to imagine a dead body up here in the corner of the stage.
Now imagine that out of that side door there comes a scantily clad woman who comes up here on stage and prances back and forth in front of our “guest.”
Does he watch her as she moves?
No? Why not?
Because he’s DEAD!!!
She has absolutely no appeal to him because he’s dead to her allures.
Now let’s say we take him out in the parking lot and put him behind the wheel of a fancy sports car. Is he impressed? (no) Why not?
Because he’s DEAD!!!
That car doesn't appeal to him at all because he’s dead to its beauty.
Let’s say we take him to a high rise apartment that has all the amenities we could ever want in a living space. Will it make any difference to him? OF course not… HE’S DEAD.
Nothing in this world attracts him, impresses him, appeals to him.
Because He’s dead to this world.
A contemporary Christian artist named Rob Frazier wrote a song that went this way
“Dead people don't mind the pain,
Don't get offended so they never complain.
They're not concerned about personal gain,
Does that sound like me or you?
The truth is rising from the mist
And the word is this;
That when Jesus calls a man He calls him to come and die!
He doesn't want you better, He wants you deader.”
Now, the problem for a lot of us is that we don’t want to offend anyone.
And the cross and all it stands for offends people.