Can you remember a time when the New Testament church had more than it has today? Our buildings are bigger and more comfortable than ever before. Pastors and ministers have greater access to education and training than at any time in history. If all this is true, and it is, why then does the church exert less influence than in previous times?
Could it be that our enemy feels less threatened by the work of the church? Perhaps he feels surer of himself because the church is often focused on the wrong things. In my opinion, the modern church is more interested in comfort than doctrine. The church is more interested in acceptance than in righteousness. In other words, the church prefers the steeple to the cross! I don’t believe human nature has changed very much since Paul’s time. The cross, when preached, is not one bit more palatable today than it was in the first century.
Our world does not mind if new churches are begun, nor does it matter that they grow, so long as there is no move toward cross bearing and cross preaching! We are free to develop new organizations and programs without fear that the evil one will come against us unless we uphold the standards of the cross.
Why is it that a symbol should evoke such bitter recrimination? Christianity has never pretended to be more than a peaceful and loving means for reaching the lost. That being the case, why then is the cross so offensive to some?
I. Why The Cross Is Offensive
A. Its very basis belittles the place of man
1. Men value themselves and their opinions above all else
2. Men want to control their own futures – the cross reminds us that it is futile to try
B. The simplicity of the gospel offends man’s wisdom
1. How dare God declare mankind sinful
2. If men need to be saved they can devise their own religion (Romans 1)
C. Preaching offends man’s intelligence
1. The gospel is too simple
2. The practice of Christianity is silly
a. What do you call a person that talks to God? A fanatic
b. What do you call a person that says God talks to him? Either insane or a Baptist
3. A man or woman wearing a robe and expounding lofty, humanistic philosophy is more to be believed than a sweaty, red-faced preacher!
II. How People Show Their Offense
A. Rarely by actual persecution
B. More often we are lumped together into categories
1. Ignorant, childish, and/or foolish
2. Throwbacks or weak minded; living in a different time
C. Even some believers get involved
1. These preach a bloodless gospel
2. They often mix Christianity with the pagan
III. What Is Most Amazing
A. That men should so foolishly find offensive that which alone offers hope
B. Who but a fool butts heads with God?
C. That what was once offensive has become my hope and joy
The cross is the strength of a minister. Let others preach the Law and morality; let them point to the terrors of Hell or declare the ordinances of worship. As for me, the lever that turns the world is the cross!