29 October 2019
Romans 3:19-28 & John 8:31-36
The way of the cross
There are two ways to finding God. The way of glory. And the way of the cross. The way of glory - rises up - to meet God at the level of His majesty. His beauty. His splendor. His brilliance. His heaven. Look for God in loftier places. In peak experiences. In which people scale the heights of their own reason, creativity, and human potential.
The way of the cross looks for God in a down-to-earth manner. In things that are as lowly. Weak. Poor. And naked. As in that suffering man. Who died on a hill. Outside the gate.
The great religions and philosophies of the world teach that God cannot suffer. God cannot bleed. God cannot die. Because God is God - he has no feelings at all. He has no passions. He has nothing in common with the suffering of human beings. In sharing their anguish. Despair. And sickness unto death.
But what happened on the cross happened to God. It is right to say that God Himself is crucified. Because Jesus is not only man but also God. The crucified Jesus is “very God of very God.” That is exactly what the Nicene Creed also says. If you are seeking God. You will find God hidden in the cross of Christ.
A church that wants to be great and glorious in worldly terms. That wants to be vocal and victorious in political terms. Is deeply suspect. Something is profoundly wrong with any church that wishes to be identified with rich, beautiful, and powerful people. That is the way of glory.
The church seeking glory tends to worship its own growth. Success. Popularity. And peddle cheap grace to those only who can afford to pay their way.
The cross is not only a way to be saved but a way to live. Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” To be a Christian is not only to believe in Christ but to follow Jesus. But to follow him where? Into the world in solidarity with the least. The lost. The last.
The cross is not a symbol for pious people meditating on things religious. The people of Christ live their lives under the cross. In school. On a farm. In a family. In a business. At city hall. In the everyday secular world. Doing what needs doing at the moment.
What hangs in the balance is the issue of bondage or freedom. Freedom is the very essence of salvation. In his wonderful treatise On Christian Freedom, Luther wrote: “A Christian is free. . .and in bondage to no one.” Yet, at the same time, he said, “A Christian is a servant, and owing a duty to everyone.” Radical freedom was purchased for us by the cross of Christ. It means to be in bondage to no one. Yet free to serve everyone.
That will sometimes mean suffering. Humiliation. Grief. Disgrace. Not many of the disciples or apostles died of old age. Bearing the cross of Christ aroused conflict and opposition. Christians ought to expect that they may be dealt with as sheep for the slaughter. In Greek the word “martyr” is the same as the word “witness.” Martyrdom means being a witness to the truth. Willing to pay the price that one unavoidably pays in doing hand-to-hand combat with forces of evil in the world. It does not mean taking up the fight. But living by the narrow way. Where God meets us in the cross of Christ.
Look not for a glorious God of majesty. But to a God. Caught dead on a cross. That afflicted man of sorrows. In whom there was no “form or beauty.” (Isaiah 53: 2)
Abide in the Word alone. Snub human thoughts. And opinions. Live by faith alone. By His grace and mercy alone. In Christ alone. Who is everything to us. The Way. The Truth. The Life.
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability – 84.3%
Reading Level –3.1
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