Taking Christianity Seriously
by Terry Broome
The story has been told of a preacher who was describing the crucifixion of Christ in very dramatic detail. He preached of the anguish and pain that Jesus felt, the crown of thorns on his head, the physical pain of crucifixion coupled with the personal feeling of being alone when He cried out “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?” As he described all that Jesus did for those whom He loved so dearly, a little boy in the audience began to cry, and soon was sobbing aloud. The people sitting next to the mother gave her a knowing smile and the mother, evidently quite embarrassed, turned to her son and whispered, “Don’t take it so seriously!”
My friends, perhaps this is one of the problems plaguing Christianity as we know it today – a failure to take the cross of Christ seriously. Most of us admit that the cross was a real moment in history, and an excruciating experience for a real man, Jesus Christ. Yet time may have tarnished the story and removed the sense of “realness” so that it seems more like a story than the most shameful moment in history. This in turn serves to take the urgency out of our Christian service. No wonder we have to beg people to attend church services if that Old Rugged Cross has become but a fainting awareness to them. On the other hand, when one is so in touch with what the cross means to the Christian, he’ll look for opportunities to thank God for Jesus, and give Him glory and honor and praise.
To the Apostle Paul, the cross of Christ was very real. He writes in Galatians 6:14: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Again in 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 he writes: “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
If one is unable to take the cross of Christ seriously, as the greatest moment in history; if one has quit personalizing the cross with the continuous reminder that he bore my sins there (see Isaiah 53); and if the cross has lost its wondrous attraction, no wonder that the whole of Christianity is less urgent to that person.
Does your heart stir with emotion and your eyes fill with tears as you sing these words?
“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear lamb of God left His glory above,
To bear it to dark calvary.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
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 someday for a crown.”
–George Bennard, 1913
The author can be reached for comments at 256-574-2489.