The Comfortable Cross
If you had to choose?
If you had to choose?
If you had to choose between a Tempur-Pedic® mattress and a box-spring to sleep on, what would you choose?
What about having to choose between your favorite pair of tennis shoes and some wooden clogs?
If you could choose between a weekend at a spa clinic and a weekend camping in the desert at the hottest time of the year, what would you choose?
I know, I know, these are all loaded questions.
But they’re common denominator is what? Comfort.
The truth is, our society places pretty high value on comfort doesn’t it
There’s a lot of money to be made on products that enhance people’s comfort.
Memory foam for your bed, Lazy-boys for your living room, body pillows, Snuggies,
On top of that, there are TV shows that exploit our love of comfort.
Ever heard of the show Dirty Jobs?
It’s a show that goes around and documents some of the world’s filthiest, most uncomfortable jobs.
And we sit on our cushioned couches, laughing or wincing, all the while
grateful we don’t have to work that job.
But there’s a danger in loving comfort too much, and I don’t just mean putting on extra pounds.
See, it seems that as we’ve continued to put more and more of an emphasis on being comfortable, our faith has followed suit.
We’ve become Christians accustomed to comfort.
We come to our buildings that are warm in the winter and air-conditioned in the summer.
Our pews and chairs are padded.
Even our Bibles are mostly soft, leather bound books, easy on the hands.
And before you know it, it’s not just the pews that are padded.
The messages are padded with easy teaching.
The doctrine becomes lifeless and leathery, and eventually the message of the Messiah becomes moral code mush.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
So what do comfort-craving fans do with something like the cross?
, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
They Make it
So what do comfort-craving fans do with something like the cross?
I mean, it’s pretty hard to avoid the cross when you’re a Christian, right?
What can you do with a phrase like, “take up your cross”?
What I’ve found is that fans eventually find a way to even make the cross comfortable.
They create a comfortable idea of the cross and what it means for us today to take up our crosses.
So the phrase, “We all have our crosses to bear” gets thrown around loosely, referring to even the most menial or everyday tasks and inconveniences.
And the cross gets pushed to the back of our sermons and Bible studies, only making its annual appearance at Easter.
And even though it’s on our churches, our t-shirts, and around our necks, we end up with a comfortable cross.
But what else are we supposed to do, right?
The cross is a tough sell.
It’s bad enough that Jesus had to die on the cross, but why did He have to go and insist we all end up with our own crosses?
Isn’t that kind of ruining Christianity’s hope for decent public relations?
Doesn’t the cross hinder our ability to recruit new people?
You’re supposed to put your best foot forward, right?
And don’t we want more people to come to Jesus?
That’s supposed to be the point, isn’t it?
Having more people come to Jesus.
So we try our best to make Christianity sound as appealing as possible, but what have we sacrificed in return?
In 1 Corinthians chapter 1 Paul talks about how the world sees the cross – in verse 18
he writes, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.”
For those living in the first century the cross was the ultimate symbol of weakness.
For many, then and now, the message of the Gospel – that God came to earth in the form of man and was crucified – is complete foolishness.
I mean why would God use a symbol of torture, of death, of weakness to save the world?
I suppose the idea of the cross seems more appealing to us because it’s no longer used to execute people and we’ve dressed it up.
We are used to seeing the cross as an ornament, decoration or a piece of jewelry.
But if a first century Jew came in and saw an illuminated cross hanging from our walls – they would think we were sick.
Imagine people walking around with a guillotine hanging around their neck or an electric chair dangling from their ears.
For the Jews the cross meant weakness.
And I think that’s God’s point.
That’s what makes the cross so beautiful.
God takes what, from a human perspective, is foolish.
He chooses what has no glory and carries no honor.
He finds the least likely symbol for love and life and says, “I’ll use that.”
God takes what the world says is foolish, demeaning, and shameful, and says “watch this” and turns it into the power of salvation.
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
says that he turns the foolishness of the cross into the power of salvation.
Look down at verse 22: “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles…for the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
Who else but God could take a cross that represented defeat –
and turn it into a symbol of victory?
Who else but God could take a cross that represented guilt –
and turn it into the symbol for grace
Who else but God could take a cross that represented condemnation –
and turn it into a symbol of freedom?
Who else but God could take a cross that represented pain and suffering –
and turn it into symbol of healing and hope?
Who else but God could take a cross that represented death –
and turn it into a symbol of life?
No one else could, but he can.
What seems like the ultimate moment of God’s weakness was in reality the ultimate moment of God’s strength.
Here’s why that matters.
Here’s what I don’t want you to miss.
This is our one point for this lesson, and it’s so important, it’s the only thing you need to get from this morning:
What God Did For the Cross, He Can Do for You.
That’s when you are the weakest – you are exactly where you need to be for God to be the strongest.
The upside down truth of the cross is that when you are weak – you are strong.
Look at verse 27…”But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
It’s not that God used the cross in spite of its weakness – he chose the cross because of its weakness.
Paul says that God chooses the weak things.
Throughout Scripture God continually chose the weak over the strong.
I came across some examples of that:
Abraham was old,
Jacob was insecure
Leah was unattractive
Joseph was humiliated
Gideon was poor
Samson was proud
Rahab was immoral
David had an affair
Elijah was suicidal
Jeremiah was depressed
Jonah was disobedient
Naomi was a widow,
Peter was impulsive & hot-tempered
Martha worried a lot
the Samaritan woman had several failed marriages
Zacchaeus was unpopular
Thomas had doubts
Paul had poor health
Timothy was timid.
The Bible is a long list of imperfect misfits who discovered that weakness is strength.
Though it seems backward to us, God teaches us that when we think we’re strong we’re really weak – but when we acknowledge our weakness and humble ourselves before the Lord we put ourselves in a position to receive His strength.
Paul talks more about this truth in his second letter to the Corinthians.
In chapter 12 verses 9-10, it says “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in…For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul says “I delight in my weakness – because when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Now I don’t know anyone who naturally delights in their weakness.
In fact most of us go to great lengths to disguise our weaknesses.
Like when you’re on a job interview and they ask the dreaded question, “What’s your greatest weakness?”
How do you answer that?
Well, I’ll tell you what you don’t want to do – you don’t tell them your weakness – because if you do, they aren’t going to hire you.
You don’t say, “I’m never on time – I constantly procrastinate – I have trouble getting along with coworkers – I am not sure how to turn on a computer.” You don’t say that.
But you have to say something. What do you say? Well you try to come up with a weakness that sounds more like a strength
– I can be a little bit of a perfectionist.
Or you say – I tend to be a bit of a workaholic.
Why do we do that? Because in our world – in our economy – weakness isn’t strength – strength is strength.
There are 2000 self-help books published every year that communicate one message – you can do it.
You have what it takes.
Look deep and find the strength within yourself.
But Paul says strength comes when we realize our weakness.
the cross makes it clear that when I am weak – He is strong.
And that’s a test for followers.
Will you, trust God enough to let your weakness be His strength?
it’s when we let go of our need…
· for comfort
· to be in control
· to glory in our strengths or accomplishments
· of our paycheck
· of our trophies
· or our co-workers’ approval
· or whatever it is that keeps you from abandoning a comfortable version of the cross
But when we reliazie that we are weak and he is strong
it’s then that God does in our lives what he did in Christ’s death.
It’s then that God does in our hearts what He did for the cross.
He takes followers who were at their weakest moment and uses it for enormous kingdom good.
He takes followers who were all but defeated and He turns their testimonies into life-giving messages of truth and hope, all to His glory.
Our pray should be Do for us what you did for the Cross.
Lord make us strong
Help us have the courage to pick up our cross and follow you