Monday, November 13, 2017

Thankful for the Cross

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NLT)

It never gets old to see three crosses standing majestically on a hillside along the highway. Or, the moment we come across a picture-perfect church nestled in a serene valley or rising up from miles of vast corn fields. Each cross that stands high atop a steeple serves as a beacon of hope to all who pass by and for all those who enter the door below. The cross of Christ - a symbol of life, hope and peace. A quiet reminder of the ultimate sacrifice given by God’s only Son to save each one of us. The word, thankful, seems a bit insignificant in trying to sum up the gratitude that should be offered for that amazing gift.

Recently, I was reminded that many in our communities don’t know the significance of the three crosses so how can they be thankful. Some don’t understand what goes on inside of a church, and they definitely don’t have a true context of why people – at least some people - wear crosses around their necks or have them displayed on their cars. Our world is changing rapidly, and we are beginning to live in a very Biblically illiterate world. For some, the cross simply looks like a lower-case T. Not a whole lot different than the cross used as a symbol for the ‘Red Cross’ or the angled cross (x) used in the Rx symbol at their local pharmacy. Does that seem a bit far-fetched? I’m afraid it’s coming closer and closer to all of our homes. Our world is full of signs, symbols and letters, and there are few that are asking “What’s the big deal about those crosses?”

Many in our world aren’t sharing or don’t really know how to share the message of the cross with others – especially to the next generation. Jesus died on a cross. It’s a well-known fact in Christian circles, but not all Christian churches are evangelical - sharing the message of the cross effectively with others. We know that is true, right? But, I find that it is hard to really comprehend the impact of that sad reality until I hear stories that prove the state of the Christian church's influence in our communities. 

Here’s a true story I heard in a regional gathering of Bible teachers as they shared how God was working in the lives of the children they are privileged to teach during ‘release’ time at their local public schools.

One teacher shared that soon after the school year started she received a disturbing phone call from a principal requesting a meeting with her. The teacher dreaded the confrontation, but dutifully agreed to the request. The outcome was not at all what she was anticipating. Fearing for her job and ministry outreach, she assumed that she had crossed the line of the ‘approved curriculum content’ or had unintentionally overstepped a boundary of conduct. Expecting the worst, she was caught off guard when the principal didn’t chastise her, but instead shared nothing but gratefulness and appreciation!

Why? 

This principal was a parent, and this parent had never known how to share the significance of the cross with her child. 

Trying to absorb this turn of events, the teacher sat dumbfounded as the principal shared the fact that her child had come home after ‘release time’ excited to tell her sister that Jesus died on the cross for each of them! Their whole family could all have their sins forgiven, and they could have a relationship with the God who created them! What a relief, and what a blessing!

The assumption of those listening to this teacher's testimony was that the parent must not be involved in a church of any sort. But, that was not the case. The family attended church, but the parent had been lost, not knowing how to broach the subject of Jesus’ death (and resurrection) with her child. And, apparently the church hadn’t been effectively sharing this message of hope and life with their children either.

The teacher’s final words of praise that day were that the child’s mother - and the principal who she was accountable to - was overjoyed with thankfulness that her daughter’s life was changed! The message of the cross was now a reality in their home and the significance of that message had forever changed their lives. She couldn't thank the teacher enough for teaching about the cross and why Jesus had to die on that cross to save those who would believe from eternal separation from God.

We must never take for granted the message of the cross. It has the power to change lives, and we have the privilege to share that message in our churches, our communities and in our homes. This season of Thanksgiving may we each embrace the significance of the cross in our own personal faith journey and rejoice in its eternal message. May we each be blessed with a new-found passion to share the message of the cross with others - young and old. You just never know when it may truly change a life!



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