The cross of Jesus Christ will forever be offensive to those who do not believe. Any symbol of the cross brings objection, whether it is worn as beautiful jewelry; a clean-lined cross on a church steeple; a stylized artistic or literary cross; or a crude splintery wooden cross. If it is in public place, legal action is almost guaranteed. It was not a symbol of the earliest church possibly because it unmasked the underground congregations who met in secret. The church adopted secret symbols such as a fish and a wreath around the two first Greek letters in “Christ”. But the cross soon became, for Christians, a universal sign of redemption and God’s love for the whole world. It has been cherished by believers; hated by unbelievers; used and abused as a symbol for armies; carried as a talisman; understood and misunderstood for two thousand years.
Paul, as an Apostle of the Lord, understood and preached the power of the cross. He wrote to the Corinthian church in inspired words, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18) Paul understood that it is the “word”, the message of the cross, that is to be cherished. There is more to the sacrifice of Jesus than mere death because the method of His death reveals the extent of the sickness of mankind. Jesus suffered the worst kind of death for our sins. Crucifixion showed the extent of the depravity and lostness of humanity. Jesus’ suffering is a suitable atonement for sin; the cure being appropriate to the illness.
Paul explained this hate and love for the cross to the Corinthians, “For indeed Jews ask for miracles and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews an offence and to Gentiles an absurdity but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:22-25)
Why then, are crosses being taken down from church buildings? Why are there many churches which have not a single display of the cross, inside or out? Are we becoming ashamed of something so foolish? Or, desiring to be winsome, are we trying to take the offensiveness of the cross out of our message? It seems as though the cross has disappeared from our teaching and preaching; out of sight and out of mind. Seeking to be unoffensive to unbelievers, are we hiding the cross from those who must embrace its message to be saved?
If we cannot understand the cross of Jesus, we will not understand the necessity of carrying our own cross. Entire submission to the will of God and becoming a living sacrifice is the way we imitate Jesus on the cross. It is the path each must take to enter a deep and meaningful relationship with Christ. There is no shame in embracing the message of the cross of Jesus. It is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.