Connecting With The Cross

It isn’t unusual to long for the “good ole days”.  There is a certain nostalgia associated with the past.  Usually the “good ole days” are not as good as we remember them.  Occasionally they are.  There was a time in this nation when religion was center stage in the life of all of us.  It wasn’t a matter of choosing between Christianity or Muslim.  It wasn’t even a decision of believing in God or being an atheist.  Our biggest question in those days was, “Where are you going to worship?”  We argued doctrine.  Each religious group competed for members because it was pre-determined that everyone would worship somewhere.

Today is not the same.  We aren’t competing with other religious groups for members.  Today we are doing battle with Satan for the souls of mankind.  It isn’t the same world and it isn’t the same culture.  It is no longer a foregone conclusion  that God will be the center in the lives of all men.  This being said the cross of Christ is still the hope of man.

In my fellowship we have placed our stress in the need for restoration.  I have used the illustration of a recipe many times to describe what we needed to  stress.  My idea went something like this, if you wanted to bake a dish you could do so if you would only follow the recipe.  It didn’t matter how old the recipe or what you knew about the recipe  so long as  you followed the recipe exactly as written.   The recipe would always produce the proper dish.  I would further teach that our recipe book is the Bible.  If you follow the Bible exactly you will alway produce the church of the New Testament.  Following this recipe required preaching on subjects like:  the church, baptism, proper terminology, proper worship, proper patterns and the like.  Stressing restoration is fine so long as God is the center of man’s life.  Restorationism works under the assumption that all men see the need for God.  What if all men don’t see the need to make God the center of their lives, what then?

Our need in today’s culture is similar to the need in the first century.  We need to find  ways to make sure our community connects with the cross of Christ.  The power of the cross changes lives.  No sin is to great for the blood of the cross to cover.  We can never travel so far in sin that we can’t come back to God.  No sin is so deep that the cross won’t cover that sin. 

How do we make sure that our communities connect with the preaching of the cross?  I don’t know all the answers but let me offer a few suggestions:

  • We must go to the world with the cross.  It isn’t about how dynamic our worship is.  It doesn’t matter the type songs we sing.  The message has to get out the doors.  Rather than bringing them in we must take the message out.
  • We must share the Cross and not our version of church.  Those outside Christ don’t care what you teach.  These people care what you are.  Rather than placing all our emphasis on what happens in our assembly we must place emphasis in how we live.  Sound doctrine isn’t limited to what you teach in reality sound doctrine is about how you live.  You can’t fool those in your community.
  • Those in our community must see the value of Christ living in you.  How you do worship will not have effect within your community unless Christ lives in you.
  • Those in our community must see the value of Christ in them.  It isn’t enough for them to see how Christ is of value to us.  They must also see how Christ in their lives would help them.  This means preaching the Cross!  It means sharing Jesus with them in a very practical way.
  • We show those in our communities the value of Jesus by making the world and our communities better.  James tells us that it takes more that saying be warmed and filled.  It takes meeting the physical as well as the spiritual needs.  We may get all doctrine right but unless we make our communities better by connecting them with the preaching of the cross we have failed. 

The things we have stressed in the past remain a necessary part of our preaching, but unless we find a way to connect our communities to the message of the cross we are failing to accomplish the will of the Father and nothing we teach will make a difference.

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