According to poles, about 95% of Americans believe in God. Spirituality is popular. God is cool, even Jesus is OK. A visit to just about any church will treat you to a message that God is good, he loves and cares about you, and that we should help the poor. In tandem with this "revival" however is an all out assault on Christianity. To a more objective spectator this might at first seem odd given the spiritual climate. So then, if Christianity is just another religion, what is unique about it that would cause such ire?
To understand this hatred, one need look no further than the Cross of Christ; Christianity's one distinguishing element as a religion. The Cross is foolishness to man, yet is a central theme to Christianity. It is repugnant and reeks to those who are perishing, but to the Christian it is beautiful and sweet. The Cross is indeed the crossroads at the intersection of man and God. At this crossroads, man will either embrace and cling to it, or be repulsed and reject it, depending on who he sees crucified there. If he sees a good teacher, a historical character, a religious leader, or just some historical man, he will rightly turn away. But if he sees an unblemished sacrificial lamb, a savior, indeed God incarnate, his heart will be filled with gratitude and there will be a demanded and necessary response.
A man's (or a woman's) heart will ultimately be the lens through which he will make this distinction. The cross tells man that he can't bridge the gap between himself and God, and he never will. This is somewhat palatable but it doesn't stop there; It goes on to say that man is depraved, hopelessly and desperately wicked, and there is absolutely nothing in him that is redeemable, and his ultimate and just reward is eternal tormenting punishment, and in fact he is already dead-dead in his sins. An inner war ensues in the heart, between the flesh and the spirit-between pride and humility- and in the end there is either a revelation-or recognition-of the basic and fundamental truth of his condition before God; which casts him to his knees at the foot of the cross. Or, his pride will reject this reality, the need for salvation, and along with it the only atoning sacrifice available to redeem his soul. He thereby places the yoke on his own neck and joins the throngs of slaves working, working, working; working off the bad and earning salvation, all the while cursing those who dare point out the vanity of it all.
When strangers ask me how I'm doing I generally respond "better than I deserve". Rarely but sometimes this elicits curiosity. In explanation I ask the rhetorical question: When you stand before God on that day, are you going to ask him to give you everything you deserve? This always causes uneasy reflection, and is never answered in the affirmative.
We know don't we? We know the truth, and as the Bible points out, we are without excuse. Let us know it in a new way this weekend, as we look on the one we have pierced.
Majesty and Humility - David's Psalm 8 begins with the glorious, "O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens...