Is the cross no more than a bauble hung on a chain around your neck? An architectural feature on top of religious buildings? An ancient symbol with no practical significance today? A reminder of how brutal and inhumane the Romans of old were toward lawbreakers?
If ever there was a “litmus test” for true Christians, your answer to the question above says a lot about whether — or not — you belong to Him.
For the first half of my life, the cross was no more than a vague reminder of Someone I had heard about who ended up nailed to one of those horrific things, having run afoul of Roman and religious authorities 2,000 years ago.
It took a dramatic conversion experience and the indwelling Holy Spirit before I “got it” about the cross and what it meant to ME PERSONALLY.
As a result, he abandoned all other grounds for “success” in his life, and the cross came to mean quite literally EVERYTHING to him.
In Philippians 3:4-6, he described all he had to brag about in the past:
“If anyone else thinks he is confident in the flesh, I have more reason: circumcised the eighth day of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.”
This man was a heavy hitter in his culture and on the fast track to fame and fortune, yet he counted those things as nothing compared to the cross of Christ.
In Galatians 6:14, he wrote: “But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
The great dividing line between the world and the child of God.
“Paul’s ground for boasting is not in the flesh of men, but in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. On that cross the world died to Paul and Paul to the world. When a man is saved, the world says goodbye to him, and he says goodbye to the world. He is spoiled as far as the world is concerned because he is no longer interested in its fleeting pleasures; the world has lost its attraction for him, because he has found One who completely satisfies.
“Findlay says, ‘He can never believe in it, never take pride in it, nor do homage to it anymore. It is stripped of its glory and robbed of its power to charm or govern him.’ Thus, the cross is a great barrier or dividing line between the world and the child of God.”
“The world says goodbye to the man.”
I remember it like it was yesterday. One by one, my old drinking buddies started cutting off contact with me.
I hadn’t changed externally, but internally — spiritually — I was altogether transformed. I didn’t see it, but others who had known me before hardly recognized me.
I reached out, but they withdrew.
At the same time, I found myself drawn to another “class” of people who I would never have been attracted to before.
They became “my people” overnight, not to “get” something FROM me, but to GIVE me their love and fellowship, no strings attached.
I had been a hard-bitten businessman before, and it took a while for it to sink in — these people and I were joined by the Holy Spirit in an eternal family, all made possible by what Jesus Christ did for us on that cruel Roman cross.
“The man says goodbye to the world.”
Before, I could never imagine living life without my manifold addictions and ingrained bad habits. I had no strength to resist their attractions and, besides, I didn’t WANT to.
Then, in what felt like a “flash,” their power over me was broken and, at the same time, I felt strangely drawn in new, healthier directions without even trying.
Now, full disclosure, this daily stuff was not a perfect overnight miracle. I needed to be spiritually “house broken” for life in my heavenly Father’s house.
But I wasn’t doing it alone. The Holy Spirit was guiding and empowering me every step of the way, cleaning out the old, and bringing in the new.
As is written in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
How About You?
How about you?What does the cross of Christ mean to you? Is it everything or just a passing thought? Your eternal destiny hangs in the balance over your answer.