Location, location, location

September 21, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Sometimes I look at the different things that are happening in Christendom and I just shake my head. Some of the beliefs that are being touted like they were always there and scripturally sound are sad. There are many who are proclaiming a false gospel. They twist the scriptures to make them say what they want (always out of context) and are misleading many who name the name of Christ. (Notice I didn’t necessarily say they were Christians…)While this makes me mad to say the least, what gets up my nose even more are the things that are spouted or passed on in ignorance. Many of the things that we take as “gospel truth” or “tradition” have no basis in scripture whatsoever.  And yet, we keep regurgitating them like they are. Worse than that, it seems that we don’t want to be bothered with checking the scripture to see if they’re actually in there.

This is one major area that the church has failed. We no longer require those who preach or teach in our churches to be scripturally sound. They can be wishy-washy, progressive, or down right heretical and I don’t think that anyone would know or care. Our kids have no idea what hermeneutics are because the parents don’t know either. Sadly, many of the people who attend church today couldn’t break scripture down verse by verse if their life depended on it. But boy can they rattle off the platitudes!

All of this thinking (and the accompanying headache and irritation) got me thinking about something that I’ve heard the whole time I’ve been in church. When I’ve wrestled with sin and was losing, or I’ve been striving to do something productive that glorifies God and it’s not working out right, I’ve had a number of people tell me to “look to the cross”. If you’re down and beaten and you have nothing left to fight with, “look to the cross”! (I think I’ll use that to write a new CCM song…) As I kept thinking about this, something was bothering me. It wasn’t a nervous, “I messed something up” kind of bothering; it was more of a “something just doesn’t sound right” kind of bothering. I continued to meditate on the thoughts and then it hit me like a ton of bricks… Hebrews 12:1-2:

Therefore, because we have so great a cloud of witnesses surround us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do you see it?!?! If not read it again. It’s ok, I’ll wait. Ok, I’m done waiting. But, before I go into what I’m trying to get at, let me explain a little. The witnesses that the writer of Hebrews is talking about are all of those listed in chapter 11 (the “faith chapter”). The list starts with patriarchs and people familiar to us and ends with all of those who have been beaten, bruised, and even killed for the sake of the gospel. The writer then says that because we have so many people that have come before us who were willing to die for the sake of the gospel, we should be encouraged by their example to run our race with endurance. Then it gets interesting. It says that we should fix our eyes on Jesus…who is sitting at the right hand of the throne of God. It doesn’t match the “look to the cross” that many people give does it? What’s funny is that one of the many worn out platitudes that Christians continue to use on each other is the oldie but goody “you can’t live in the past” or “don’t look to the past, look to the future!”. (I wonder if these people ever take their own advice?) Ok, now I know that I can be a little dense at times ( the rest of the time I’m stubborn…) but didn’t the event of the cross take place in the past? Was it a one time thing or does it continue to happen like those in the Roman Catholic Church believe? From what scripture says, the event of the cross happened one time and its effects are still going on. Again, correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t scripture say that Jesus died on the cross, was taken down and buried in a tomb? Doesn’t it then go on to say that He rose from the dead three days later? I mean really, this is the Resurrection Day story! And then, I think if we look in the book of Acts, we’ll find that Jesus actually ascends into heaven. Hmmm, Christians keep telling me to “look to the cross” and scripture tells me to fix my eyes on Jesus who is seated at the right hand of God’s throne. What should I do?!? I know! I’ll listen to what scripture says! I’ll keep my eyes fixed on the Advocate of my life.

Ok, that last little bit was a little snippy, but I get irritated by stuff like this. Why would you tell people to look at the cross when Jesus isn’t there anymore? Why should I look somewhere that Jesus is not when scripture tells me exactly where to look? I am guessing that some of you (out of the tens and tens of people that actually read this) are thinking that I’ve missed it. We tell people to look at the cross because of what it stands for. I understand that, I really do, but I’ve got a question. Couldn’t I look at the risen Lord Jesus, who still bears the scars of the crucifixion, and see that and more? Do I have to go back to the bloody cross to understand what happened there? I don’t think so. I’m not saying that we should completely forget about the cross. We shouldn’t. The cross is one of the most amazing and devastating things that has ever happened in all of history. But, if we’re talking to people who are soundly saved, we should be telling them to fix their eyes on Jesus, not “look to the cross”.

By looking to Jesus while He’s seated at the right hand of the throne of God we get the whole picture. We see the Lamb of God who was slain for the sins of man. We see His power over death, hell, and the grave. We see in His bodily resurrection hope for ourselves as well. We see the majesty and power of both God the Father and God the Son. We get a wonderful contrast of the wrath and justice of God with the mercy and grace of the same God. And, we are reminded that while He is currently sitting down, He will not remain that way. One day, known to Him and the Father, He will stand up and come back down to earth to both gather those that are His and mete out judgment to those who rebel. This thought should cause us to both tremble and fear for those who are not saved. It should cause us to get a serious desire to see as many people as possible hear the truth of the gospel. And it should cause us to repent for allowing the glorious gift we’ve been given to be neglected so badly and ignored in favor of church growth methods and ear tickling stories for our kids.

Don’t forget the cross. It is a significant in history as well as in the life of every person who has acknowledged their sin, repented of it, and put their faith completely in Jesus. But, when you’re troubled by the things that you’re facing, don’t look to the cross; fix your eyes on Jesus as He sits at the right hand of God’s throne and gaze upon your conquering Lord…

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