The cross is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world, and rightly so. It represents mankind's hope for eternal life.
Does this sound religiously dogmatic? Maybe so, but how could any sincere Christian give reverence to Holy Week without referring to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Billy Graham is quoted as saying, "God proved his love on the cross. When Christ hung and bled and died, it was God saying to the entire world, 'I love you.'"
More than just knowing, the follower of Christ has been commissioned to tell the world about God's grace, which redeemed and provides the reality of eternal salvation. Many people have heard about Jesus Christ being tortured on the cross at this time of year, even though the world would much rather advertise a more happier version of a holiday that emphasizes cute bunnies and hunting for colored eggs.
When writing or speaking in the public forum, of course it's wise to have an open mind and not be so rigid about a certain issue to the point where only a handful of people will listen, but the cross is an exception. It is the foundation of the Christian faith, and the promises contained therein are where the disciple of the Bible refuses to compromise.
Calvary is where every child of God is united within the greatest act of unconditional love the world has ever known. Matthew Henry is quoted as saying, "Come and see the victories of the cross of Christ. His wounds our healing, his agonies our repose, his conflicts our conquests, his groans our songs, his pains our ease, his shame our glory, his death our life, his sufferings our salvation."
It's true the great commission has more to do with the way we live than what we say. Through the responsibility of evangelism, Christians comprehend the world needs to hear how the cross represents victory over sin, but they also need to remember it's up to them to become a genuine demonstration of what a true follower is called to be. The world is not going to consider accepting Christ as their Savior if the representatives of God's kingdom are not who they claim to be. If anyone proclaims to be ransomed by the blood that Jesus shed on the cross, yet their life does not match their words, how will others be convinced this is the path God is calling them to take? May we as followers come to a point in our spiritual journey where the cross becomes more of an awareness of his presence than a piece of jewelry.
Charles Spurgeon is quoted as saying, "I find no better cure for depression than to trust in the Lord with all my heart and seek to realize afresh the power of the peace-speaking blood of Jesus and his infinite love in dying upon the cross to put away all my transgressions." Before any of us can celebrate the cross as our deliverance, we must understand it was because of us he had to go there.
Included within the accountability of taking up our own cross is discerning when divine opportunities are being presented to share the Gospel and when to be silent. Being led by God's Spirit is much more effective than our clever arguments and emotional enthusiasm.
I confess I've failed to recognize the difference and made a mess of things, and to be honest there have also been times when I hesitated from embarrassment and intimidation (remember Peter). Our pride causes us to believe our family will reject us and friends at work will label us as fanatics and make fun of us.
So how does someone who embraces the cross of Christ learn how to function in a rebellious world that is trying to avoid it? It is honesty, humility and sincerity that God uses to reveal the truth about his compassion and forgiveness to others much more than we can with our social religiosity.
Jesus loves you so much he willingly went to the cross and died so that you could be saved and live forever. He rose from the dead and is now waiting for you to respond.
Issac Watts wrote the hymn "At the Cross," and here is the chorus. "At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away, it was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day."
William F. Holland is a minister and chaplain based in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Read more at billyhollandministries.com.