Summary: This message focuses on the Cross of Christ and the fact that Jesus calls each of us to carry our own cross daily. (1 Cor. 1:18-27, 2 Cor. 12:9-10
The Comfortable Cross
CHCC: April 29, 2012
INTRODUCTION: (sit in chair acting like you're asleep – then “wake” up)
I guess I got too comfortable! Today we’re talking about The Comfortable Cross. (Show the cross shaped pillow and explain who made it.)
1. The Comfortable Cross
In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
That statement is pretty hard to take for a comfort-loving Christian. I mean, what can you do with a phrase like, “take up your cross”? You can bet that any “fan” of Jesus will find a way to make a “comfy” cross. We take a phrase like “We all have our crosses to bear,” and throw it around --- We pretend we’re “bearing our cross” when we have to drive in traffic --- or when we have to watch low-def TV because the high def channel quit working.
We don’t talk about the cross much at church … and if we’re inviting someone to church we don’t mention it at all. We talk about the great music … the amazing preacher … the comfortable chairs … the fact that we get to lunch way before the Baptists. Anything that will attract people.
The cross is a tough sell. It’s bad enough that Jesus had to suffer and die on a cross, but then he warned that his followers would have to take up their own crosses every day! That’s a public relations nightmare for Christianity! How did Jesus expect to get ANY followers with that kind of advertising?
So we try to soften the cross up a bit. We want more people to come to Jesus, right? So we try to make Christianity sound as effortless and cushy as we possibly can.
That makes me think back to when our two daughters were growing up. I was always glad to tell anyone all about how wonderful my daughters were! But when it came to someone that would want to marry one of them … step one is that he had better fully appreciate the treasure they were getting … and he’d better be ready and willing to make any sacrifice for her! That’s the kind of commitment it would take!
Sometimes we are so eager to get people to consider Jesus Christ that we give a false impression. We offer them a pillow-cross and act like the Christian life is a nice long nap in a lazy-boy recliner. We give the impression that God would be lucky to get them … when it’s completely the other way around.
That’s not the approach Jesus had. Jesus wasn’t interested in attracting a bunch of comfort-loving “fans.” When Jesus invited people to follow him, he pointed to an instrument of torture and execution. We have to wonder: Why the Cross?
2. Why the Cross?
In First Corinthians Paul talks about how the world sees the cross – in chapter 1,verse 18 he writes, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.” People back then wondered, “why the cross?” and people today wonder the same thing.
For those living in the first century the cross was the ultimate symbol of defeat. It sounded ridiculous to imagine that God would come to earth in the form of man --- and then end up dying on a cross. This made it look like God was the looser rather than the winner. It made it look like God was weak instead of strong.
And I think that is God’s point. God snatched victory OUT of defeat. He turned one of the ugliest symbols of death into the most beautiful symbol of life. God takes what the world says is foolish, demeaning, and shameful, and says “Watch this” and turns it into the power of salvation.
Look at I Corinthians 1:22”
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles…For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
• In the cross, God took the symbol of defeat
– and turned it into a declaration of victory.
• He took punishment for guilt
– and turned it into a provision for grace.
• He took the consequence of condemnation
– and turned it into the flag of freedom.
• He took the instrument of pain and suffering
– and turned it into the means of healing and hope.
• He took the emblem of mortal death
– and turned it into the image of everlasting life.
Why the cross? Because the cross shows us God’s plan of salvation. What seems like the ultimate moment of God’s weakness is … in reality … the ultimate moment of God’s strength. And this is the whole point: What God did for the Cross is the same thing God can do for you!