Thursday, February 11, 2016
The Old Rugged Cross
When I was growing toward my faith in Christ, it seemed that the church was always singing, "The Old Rugged Cross." Somewhere along the way without ever really intending for it to happen that old song took root in my memory and heart. Nowadays, we hardly sing it. Maybe it is not contemporary sounding enough, or maybe there are more hymns from which to choose, or maybe the church has developed an aversion toward a message that is cross centered. The cross was messy, bloody, and deadly. Preachers do not seem to spend much time preaching about the saving power of the blood of Christ. Apparently, the cross has become too x-rated for normal Sunday morning viewing. After all, children may be present. Some of the children are under the age of ten and some are more like the babes in Christ spoken of by the Apostle Paul.
Hearing "The Old Rugged Cross" the other day set me to thinking about the way the cross is handled in today's church culture. Mostly, the cross is seen in the church as a piece of jewelry worn around the neck or the arm of those who come to worship. And, if not a piece of jewelry, it is implanted on the Sunday T-shirt with other Christian symbols and scripture verses. Of course, in some places it is still seen sitting around the altar area or on the wall, but it is hardly seen as the church's selling point in the world. Non-believers who show up with their Biblical illiteracy might actually wonder why it is displayed in such prominent places since no one seems very eager to talk about it.
It makes you wonder if the church is missing something in its proclamation about Christ. Unfortunately, the message of today's church does not center around Jesus dying, but around Jesus loving everybody and Jesus caring for the sick and Jesus being an example for those who intend to live the Christian life. It is no wonder the church often seems to be stumbling toward obscurity. Something is missing. What is missing is not something the church can do without. Neither can we.