We live in a world where we often will take seemingly foolish things and either complicate them, fix them, or just find a way of removing the foolishness. It is the self-reliant in many of us; it needs to add up, to make sense. Sometimes I think we do that with the gospel as well. It is too simple, so we complicate it. We complicate how we pray, the Lord’s Prayer is too simple, we complicate how we live, Grace is too painless. We move away from the basics to what our minds can fathom, complicated.
So in an effort to go back to basic, I have found myself spending meditating on the gospel in its simplicity and it has been refreshing.
Message of the cross
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
These verses are powerful, eye-opening in many ways. “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom.” I have found myself wondering if I am more of Jew and a Greek sometimes, depending on the strength in the signs and wonders, looking for a message that is eloquent and full of human wisdom; too often making it look like the gospel that is the message of the cross is not enough.
I have often found myself wondering if the message people need to hear in the depths of difficulties, or just life in general, is the message of the cross or some life changing wisdom full message of everything but the message of the cross. I have found myself cringing at preachers who will persuade us to believe in the Lord because of the power of the cross. How about connect with my wisdom, with my brain, with my need to be great?
The love at the cross
Why is the message of the cross the reason for my salvation? Why is this simple message the truest reflection of the power of God, His wisdom? Why is any other message that supersedes the message of the cross weaker?
And one of the answers I have found is this; it is in the message of the cross that we know we are very loved.
You could ask why that is important. Love is a powerful thing, for all of us equally regardless of our faith. The one thing that moves all of us equally is love. We are all in our own small and many ways looking for love. And when we find it, even earthly love, we hang on to it. Even the strongest of us, acts of true deep love have a way of moving us. We all seem to yearn for love, to need love, to want love.
I have met people who because they found love they will do strange things, they will go to strange heights, they will sacrifice to the strangest heights. A person who loves what they do for a living has a stride that only love can give. Our hearts yearn for love.
And the message of the cross is just that, a message of such great LOVE that any who comes across it, any who meet with it, can truly never be the same. That it is undeserved, unearned love makes it all the more the love that can change us. You see many religions teach ‘earning love’ with great works. Yet the message of the cross is a love that is already there, that can never be earned. That realization can tag any heart.
One of the songs I love is Don Moen’s at foot of the cross puts it so well. “At the foot of the cross where grace and suffering meet, You have shown me your love….and you’ve won my heart…”
At the foot of the cross
Each time I watch this song’s video, the passion of Christ, I know God has won my heart.
You see the amount of love it takes to take the beating Christ took, the nailing, the ridiculing, for a sinless man, for my sake; the amount of love it takes to do all that Christ did at the cross is truly a love I can bank on.
The other day I was listening to this song when so many voices were going through my head; voices of doubt, voices of ridicule, voices of defeat, voices of despair. Yet as I listened to this song, as I meditated on the message of the cross, I knew I never ever can trust anyone as I should Christ. I knew with certainty that even those who love me so much, would never do what Christ did for me. And for that reason I knew this, that I can trust Him, I can follow Him, I can live for Him, I can be His; His daughter, His friend, His slave, His anything He needs me to be.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish. Those words, that God so loved the world that….Those words tag my heart; that kind of love I sometimes don’t even get. This is perhaps why Paul prayed that ‘we may know how deep, how high…His love for us is’. Many times I know even in my best moments, I never will fully truly understand this love. Yet the little I do tags my heart.
The assurance in this love
That’s the reason the message of the cross is more than enough. It can change the hardest hearts to melt for this Love. It can build the kind of trust I find in Meshack, Shadrack and Abednego when they said the words below:
O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up
I hear 3 things in these verses that take me back to the foolishness that is the message of the cross. One is faith; it is a belief in God that is so deep that you know that you know God is able to save you from any ‘furnace of life’. That kind of faith can only come from being at the feet of the cross and seeing the power God beholds in resurrecting Christ. No furnace can ever be greater that the cross was.
Second was the faith that the trio had that God is not only able to save them from the furnace, but that He was willing to. “The God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power. ”That kind of faith, that you just know that this God who loved me so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that kind of love means He can do anything for me. He can get me a job, He can build my faith when I am faithless, He can get me a spouse, He can grow my career, He can get me a child, He can grow my business, He can direct my path. He can do anything.
Third is that He is sovereign and I can trust His sovereignty. “But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you….” A faith that even if He does not save me from this furnace, it is because He is sovereign. You see we struggle many times with powerful people because we do not know that we can trust them to use their power for good. Yet this trio did not struggle with this, I will not struggle with this either. Why> coz of the message of the cross. The Love it takes to die for me just means whatever God chooses, it is for my best.
So I am yearning for more of the message of the cross. The message of the cross is the reason I am, not the inspiring words I often hear, or the inspiring things I read; and they all are useful; but they can never come close to the power that is in this simple message of the cross.