The cross is the test of everything which deserves to be called Christian.
The cross is at the heart of Christianity. Therefore, we must keep the cross central. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. The cross is the revelation of God.
To know God is to know Christ on the cross. To know Christ on the cross is to know him as he is revealed by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
When the crucified Jesus is called the ‘image of the invisible of God,’ the meaning is that this is God, and God is like this. God is not greater than he is in this humiliation. God is not more glorious than he is in this self-surrender. God is not more powerful than he is in this helplessness. God is not more divine than he is in this humanity.
2. The cross is our salvation.
God’s revelation of himself in the cross is his provision of salvation. The cross must not just become an example of selflessness. The cross is that in which the sins of the world were atoned (Romans 3:21-26). It is the preaching of the cross which is the power of God by which others might be saved (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18)
3. The cross leads to cruciformity.
We are not only saved by the cross but also shaped by it. We become cruciform people. Living lives defined by the cross leads to self-sacrifice, humility and service (Philippians 2:5-11).
The way to Christian maturity involves the cross. And specifically, it includes suffering. David Garland writes that “the Christian life is not a fast track to glory but a slow, arduous path that takes one through suffering.”
4. The cross transforms our relationships.
As we become cruciform people who live lives of self-sacrifice, humility and self-sacrifice, this naturally changes relationships.
It is interesting that in Paul’s letters, when he dealt with factions in the church, he wrote of the cross. Paul was convinced that a proper understanding of the cross would lead to unity within the church (1 Corinthians 1:10-4:21).
5. The cross pushes us into the world.
The cross and mission go together. Just as Christ entered the world at it’s greatest need, so we must enter the world at it’s greatest need.
The cross for us means that we enter the world of those who are alienated and hurting. The church, compelled by the love of God, must enter the suffering of the world.
Discipleship of the crucified Christ is characterized by a faith that drives its adherents into the world with a relentlessness and a daring they could not manage on the basis of human volition alone.
We must be diligent in keeping the cross central.
We must pay attention to the words of D.A. Carson:
I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry.
May we say as Paul..
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.