Sunday, 25 March 2012
It’s Time to Offend!
If the preaching of the cross unleashes God’s convicting, converting power what does it say about the decline in Church growth and the powerlessness of preaching and worship? The cross is inseparable from Jesus Christ. Whenever the follower of the Lord seeks to divorce the one from the other, the blessing of the Lord is strangled. Within the Western Church we are breeding a generation of well meaning ‘do-gooders’ keen on ‘spirituality’ (however defined) but not bearing the cross, denying self and following Jesus.
The preaching of the cross was not only foolish in the Church’s beginning, it was foolish. The Greek word used means ‘scandal’. Why? Because Jesus was crucified as a blasphemer and political threat to Caesar! For us God endured all the worst that Humanity and the Powers of Darkness could do. The resurrection of Jesus crushed sin and death’s hold over humanity.
By the silence from the pulpit about the cross what is really being conveyed to the World? The preacher and that congregation are ashamed of the Lord Jesus as the crucified and risen One. Why then should the non-Christian be interested in becoming a disciple? Also, Jesus warned would-be disciples about being ashamed of Him. ‘If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.’ (Mark 8:38.)
The preaching of the cross has never been popular yet it has ever been the power of God to transform individuals, families and society. The Lord never called His servants to be popular but to be faithful in lifestyle and proclaiming the Gospel. Whenever the Church has taken its eyes off the Cross, it has sunk into the morass of ritualism and insipid moralizing. Renewal begins with a rediscovery of Romans 1:16, ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jews, then for the Gentiles.’
May we be grabbed by the implications of the Apostle Paul’s love affair with Christ and the cross: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14.
Ray (unashamed of the cross) Hawkins.