And I brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. Galatians 5:11
The cross is a cruel instrument of death and everyone who was nailed to it succumbed to its unmerciful power to kill. It is the symbol of Christianity and is known around the world for its use in the execution of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today the cross of Christ is just a faint memory of something that happened aeon's ago to someone to whom the world acknowledges as Savior. Just a little boy born in a manger who performed some miracles and died on the cross and so we hang a golden symbol around our neck to show the world we acknowledge Him, or it goes well with what we are wearing as any other fine piece of jewelry would.
Imagine wearing a golden electric chair around your neck, or a jewel encrusted gas chamber, or maybe a hangman's noose showing the various instruments of death to the world, I am sure you would get some varied responses to your choice of jewelry. The point is: we have allowed time to wear away our perception of something that is very offensive and should always be remembered for what it is, a cruel and unmerciful instrument of execution.
But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews an offense and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. I Corinthians 1:23,24
OFFENDED BY THE CROSS
I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20
We as believers have been crucified by the cross that is brought to us by the Lord Himself, we either accept it or deny it, the choice is ours, but to walk with Jesus we must die! When one is born again he no longer lives because he has been crucified to the world and Christ now lives within him, this in itself offends many so-called believers. To live with Christ is to die to all independent living and follow the One who died for us!
The word of God is clear in that it teaches us to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us. Throughout the New Testament we are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus, to lay down our life so that He can live His life through us. We are taught by the Holy Spirit not to love our life even unto death. This is offensive to many in the church today who have been polluted by the prosperity message of get all you can and can all you get! Name it and claim it or blab it and grab it and so on, and so on!
The fact of the matter is this: in order to follow Jesus one must die as the cross is brought into his life. To understand the message of the cross we must look at how Jesus dealt with the rich young ruler and the rich man that was brought his cross to his front door step. I personally believe that the rich boy is also the rich man who grew up, rejecting Christ's call to love Him with all of his heart, and then rejected his second call to love his neighbor thereby breaking the two greatest commandments in the Bible.
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their mind on earthly things. Philippians 3:17-19
INVITATION TO DIE
"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it." Luke 9:23,24
Jesus tells the story of two men who were invited to obey the commands of Christ, one: by loving God with all of their heart, and two: by loving their neighbor as themselves. These are the two foremost commandments that fulfill the whole law and the two men failed miserably and denied the invitation to die!
A rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him what he must do to inherit eternal life, the most important question there is to ask. Jesus told him to keep the commandments and he said he had done that, even though no one but Christ has. Secondly He said,"One thing you lack, sell all you have, give to the poor and come follow Me." The cross was presented to the boy and because of his great wealth and the love he had for his own life he couldn't do it, but went away sorrowful rejecting the Savior's invitation.
If in fact the rich young ruler grew up to be the rich man in the story of Lazarus, the poor beggar laid at his gate, he refused the second invitation to die. It says this man lived in luxury every day of his life, that is, until the cross came in the form of a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores and ruining the view from his front porch. The instrument of death to self was right in front of his eyes when he had the chance to help this poor beggar in his affliction just like the poor of this world that we either help or refuse! The world today is full of poor beggars, drug addicts, prostitutes, homosexuals with aids, and unwed mothers, not to mention the starving masses around the world and to say, that we didn't see them is shameful and a total denial of the love and mercy that was given to us all!
The poor beggar died there on the steps of the rich man's house alone in his affliction and pain just as thousands die every day with no one even noticing that they existed. The rich man also died and immediately was in the fires of hades being tormented by the flames and crying out to Abraham standing on the other side in paradise to cool off his tongue with cool water, but Abraham said, it's too late! He then preceded to tell him of how he lived in comfort all of his life with no concern for others or his invitation to die and follow Jesus, but was only looking out for himself. How sad it is to go about life without looking into the needs of others and to deny the very Master who bought us with His own blood and to reject the cross of Christ from ever coming into our life!
"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost"? Luke 9:25