There are many people who try to get rid of the Cross, and in many different ways, and not all of them are atheists.
Let me make it clear that I believe in a real God and a real devil. And I believe that God has brought salvation to the world through the Cross, and that, as a result, the devil hates the Cross. (By the Cross I mean both the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.)
It is through the Cross that the culmination of God’s love is revealed in its fulness to the world. Everyone who will be saved will be saved because of the Cross.
If the devil can remove or obscure the Cross, he knows that he can maximise his impact on the world and maximise the number of those who will be lost. That’s why the devil is doing all he can to get rid of the Cross.
In the secular world, the devil has removed the Cross by removing God entirely from the picture, through evolutionary ideology. The Christian teaching about the Cross can be ignored as simply superstitious nonsense. Probably not even 1 in 100 non-Christians would be able to explain the basic meaning of the Cross within the Christian faith.
For some Christians, the devil removes the Cross by trivialising it. One way in which he does that is by treating it as just a good luck charm to hang on the end of a necklace. Basically, the same as a rabbit’s foot.
But for many Christians, the devil has sneakier ways of trying to get rid of the Cross.
The Cross Still Deeply Offends People
It’s not trendy to talk about the Cross, even often for Christians. As a post-modern society, we don’t want to dwell on the cruelty and horror of crucifixion. There are nicer things to talk about.
Even worse, the idea that the central, saving event of faith has the shedding of blood at its core is repulsive to contemporary minds. It recalls the idea of primitive people and human sacrifices and so on.
The Cross still deeply offends people because at its heart is the idea that we are not good enough, and that we are not worthy in and of ourselves. This is absolutely the opposite concept that the world tries to instil in us: that we are all good enough in and of ourselves.
But Christianity tells us that we really do need Jesus. We don’t just need Jesus to lend a hand now and then with some supernatural power, but mostly we can cope on our own. We don’t just need Jesus as a teacher or a healer or as an inspirational person, as an example. We need Jesus first and foremost as a Saviour, because without him, even at our best, we are broken, and we are lost.
There are many streams of Christianity that emphasise Jesus more as an example, whether of how to live, how to do miracles, or how to be faithful and obedient to God. When we do this, it is just another way of getting rid of the Cross.
We should always remember that Jesus lived for 33 years among us, and of the great majority of those years, we know next to nothing. The written gospels focus on the Cross, and so should we.
The Cross Proved That Nothing Can Defeat Jesus
There are also some streams of Christianity that try to remove the Cross theologically, by saying that the self-sacrifice of God through his Son wasn’t a saving act, but a murder. They say that there was no need for a sacrifice so that we might be saved, because God already loved us from the beginning. In this scheme of things, the death of Jesus becomes merely an illustration of how much he loves us, with no saving power in the act itself.
The Cross was scandalous even in the first century. The reasons who it was scandalous back then are essentially the same reasons why they are shocking today. Paul called the teaching that God should choose to save us through the Cross “foolish” (1 Cor. 1:18) and even “offensive” (Gal. 5:11.)
Every person, whether explicitly or implicitly, will decide for themselves what they do with the Cross of Jesus. As for me, I’m not going to get rid of it, and I’m not going to hide it.
The Cross is where God, through Jesus demonstrated his love for me. There, he showed the value that he puts on me as a person. The Cross is where Jesus took accepted my weak and flawed life and offered me his own perfect record, to be credited to my account forever.
That’s what his shed blood was all about. My inability to save myself was so deep, and my death was so certain, that Jesus stepped in himself and took my place.
Today, I strive to draw more and more of my identity from who Jesus declared me to be at the Cross. I strive to walk humbly before others, in everlasting gratitude to God. Today, I go out with confidence into the world, knowing that there is nothing that can defeat me because the Cross proved that there is nothing that can defeat Jesus. And I’m with him.
Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez.
About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question. Sign up to his free online course called Becoming a Follower of Jesus to learn about Jesus and His message.
Feature image: Photo by Thanti Riess on Unsplash