I was raised in church. All my life my parents took me to Sunday School and we even occasionally went to Sunday and Wednesday night services (these services seemed, at least in my adolescent mind, to be reserved for the super committed holy crowd). I know church. I know all the clichés, Bible stories, most of the hymns, how to dress, act, talk, etc… – I know church. For most of my young life I saw church as obligatory and stale, mainly because I was forced to go. I began to develop a church persona and a “rest of the week” persona. I lived two lives. It didn’t seem odd at all; in fact it felt normal in that most of the people around me were doing the same thing. As a kid sometimes you don’t ask why, you just follow the crowd – I followed. At least until the Lord rocked my world and forced me to make a decision about who I truly was and who I’d be to the world around me every day of the week. It was my “Damascus Road” moment. I had to make a decision. One that would require me to lead, not follow. To take a stand, not join the crowd. It was the toughest decision of my life so far, but one that had to be made. Suddenly, my outlook began to change towards the church. Though a lot of it still seemed stale and obligatory, other parts seemed pure and honest. I found myself not just singing songs but worshiping. Not just struggling to keep my eyes open during the message but studying God’s word. I began to change.
Now I’ll be the first to say that I’m still frustrated with several religious “isms” we still continue in many churches today that are based more on our opinions and bias than scripture but I’m finding that as I get older and wiser some traditions feel sweet and genuine to me. Like I’m sensing the heart of why they were instilled in the first place. Some things may just be nostalgia, like pews, hymnbooks, pulpits, stained glass and the like. But other symbols are timeless and irreplaceable. I’m referring mainly to the Cross. Hung proudly in most Christian churches either from the steeple or above the congregation somewhere stating that our focus, our aim, our everything, is rooted here in this death symbol. Every cross in every church looks a little bit different. Some wooden and rustic, some metal and modern, but all proclaiming the death of Christ.
May we never forget that the cross is and will always be relevant. It’s still the one and only place for healing, peace, and ultimately salvation. For some reason the message of the Cross has become a little muted in our music and our messages in the church and for that my heart is saddened. We can’t forget John 14:6 where Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” How can we give life to a dying world and leave out the story of the cross? How can we tell our friends and loved ones of the ‘peace that passes all understanding’ and not mention the sacrifice of Christ? How can we fulfill our very purpose for being created without telling and living the message of the cross? Truthfully, we cannot.
Let us never be ashamed, or grow weary of the truth and message of the cross of Christ. It is to us the power unto salvation. Our hope. Our peace. Our redemption. Our salvation. Our everything.