We often see the cross worn as a piece of jewelry. I have a number of cross lapel pins. Military cemeteries will have row upon row of white cross grave markers. It is a prominent symbol, and sometimes one wonders what it means to the one wearing it? Because at its core the cross is offensive. The cross confronts us with our sin and our separation from Almighty God. It shows us who we really are, and that we are incapable of making ourselves acceptable. The cross strikes us at the very core of our pride, and humbles us before the God by whom we were created. The cross also confronts us with the overwhelming grace of God who did something for us that we are incapable of doing for ourselves in making atonement for our sins . This is why crosses are torn down by persecutors of our faith. Yet, when we really understand the meaning of the cross, and wear it knowing the gift of life we’ve been given, we can joyfully sing the words of the Gospel song “So I’ll cherish the old rugged Cross Till my trophies, at last, I lay down I will cling to the old rugged Cross And exchange it some day for a crown.”
We say that our God is a holy God. Do we really have any idea what holiness is? One image from Revelation 4 says, “there before me was a throne in heaven … and the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne… from the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God… In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, … Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”(vss.1-8) No earthly image can fully depict the true holiness, and awesome magnitude and majesty of our God. We must never think that we are worthy in ourselves to stand before this God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”(Romans 3:23) Only by the blood of Christ can we approach that throne. It is only in the righteousness He alone gives that we are worthy to enter. Our life is in humbly kneeling before the cross with the greatest of thanksgiving on our lips.
Paul writes to the Galatians, “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”(6:14) We know what the cross did to Jesus. We know that His atoning sacrifice on the cross means forgiveness and new life for us. But here Paul applies the cross in an even wider sense. “Through which the world has been crucified to me…” he wrote. That is, because Jesus has given us new life, all of the glories, vanities, and enticements that the world has to offer are really pale and meaningless compared to the goodness Jesus offers us in His life and Kingdom. Further, “I have been crucified to the world,” he continued. That is, when temptation attack us we can offer them up to the cross, and leave them there. The cross becomes our way of life, and we can declare with Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”(2:20)
A friend of ours is a blacksmith. He also does a lot of welding. When he welds, the welding spark produces a light so bright that it would damage his eyes if he didn’t wear a welding helmet. The natural eye can’t stand that brilliance without some protection. The Bible says that our God is a consuming fire. (Heb.12:29) None of us, in our natural life, can come into the brilliant glory of Almighty God. It would mean instant death. But we have a means of protection. The Cross stands between us and the consuming fire of God. We can come into the brilliant glory of our Heavenly Father by walking there with Jesus. He precious blood is our shield of protection. “No man,” Jesus said, “comes unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6)