Sundays: 9 & 11am LATEST MESSAGE

The Paradoxes of the Cross

Charlie Boyd - 7/29/2018

In our culture today, we tend to be logo kind of people. Some of the most iconic logos are like the swoosh of Nike, or the big “M” of McDonald’s, or Apple’s bitten apple. Companies spend huge amounts of money to craft these logos to enhance their brands and to create a certain image. And, we tend to self-identify with the logos and brands we like most—OR NOT—your distinctive brand could be that you pride yourself on being brand-less!

The distinctive symbol—the distinctive logo—of the Christian faith, of course, is the cross. However, I think we’ve lost the sense of the horror of the cross because wearing a cross or displaying a cross is like having a symbol of a gas chamber or a hangman’s noose or a guillotine as your main logo. And yet, this instrument of death stands at the center of the Christian faith as a symbol of life. The fact that the Cross is a symbol of both death and life is just one of the many paradoxes of the cross.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 —Why is the message of the cross a stumbling block to some and foolishness to others? The apostle Paul tells us here that the “word of the cross” is a paradox. Basically, he tells us that in the cross, we see the foolish wisdom of God put on display. We see the power of God displayed in weakness. How so? In the paradox of a Crucified Messiah. For both Jews and Greeks, the idea of a crucified Messiah or a crucified King was a contradiction in terms. But God purposely, intentionally “chose” (1:19-31) to offer his salvation through the absurd notion of Christ dying on a cross. It is in the apparent weakness and foolishness of the cross that the power of God’s salvation is revealed.

So, in Paul’s day, the cross of Christ had its critics and detractors and the same thing is true today, which leads us to the next question: How can a loving God devise a plan that would lead to the cruel death of his own Son? Is this not “divine child abuse?”

First, the charge of ‘divine child abuse’ undervalues the dual nature of Christ. Jesus was with God before time began, working out this plan of salvation. He freely, voluntarily chose to go to the cross and die for our sins (see John 10:11, 17-18). Second, the charge of ‘divine child abuse’ underestimates the problem of human sin and injustice.

Paul says, “To those of us who believe, the cross is the power of God for salvation. And the Bible claims that it is only through the cross of Christ that anyone can be saved? But what about other religions? Isn’t that too narrow-minded and intolerant? ...No, if Christianity is true if the cross is the only way to know God, it’s not intolerant to say that it’s the only way no more than saying Paris is the capital of France. Something can be true, but it’s not intolerant to hold to that truth. However, we should not be arrogant or intolerant in how we hold to Gospel truth. Jesus knew the truth, but he was also full of grace.)

So why did God—and by God, I mean, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit—why did the Godhead, three-in-one, come up with a worldwide rescue plan that rests on a cross? (see 1:28-31)? …To destroy the pride that will keep us from God. To come to God, to live with God, you must come to him on his terms, not yours.