Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | March 26, 2015

March 26, 2015 “The Ornament”

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2: 1-2)

Good Morning Everyone. God has blessed us with a glorious new day, so let’s rejoice!

In previous posts, I have talked of my days at Grove City College in western Pennsylvania where I first discerned God’s call in my heart to enter into full-time Christian work. During my sophomore year, I was invited to be the music leader for a chapter of Young Life, a ministry geared towards sharing the gospel with high school students. I gladly accepted that invitation, and gladly shared my own testimony with those in the group, and those outside of the group as well. I sought out fellow believers. But I vividly recall one encounter I had with a young gal I met on campus who was wearing a cross around her neck. Assuming her to be a believer, I struck up a conversation with her and said something to the effect, “Oh, I see that you’re a believer, too.” She gave me a puzzled and somewhat annoyed look and replied, “What are you talking about?” I explained that I was a Christian and assumed from the cross she was wearing that she was also a Christian. Well, she let me know in no uncertain terms of my mistaken assumption and stormed away, much to my bemusement. I learned a valuable lesson that day about assumptions. Cross jewelry, no matter how prominently displayed, does not a Christian make! Still, it’s sad to think that this universally accepted symbol of Christianity and the amazing grace of God could, and has for many, been reduced to a mere ornament signifying virtually nothing at all.

The cross and its life-changing significance lies at the very heart of the proclamation of the gospel. Talking about the love of God without talking about the significance of the cross is as meaningless as the necklace around that young woman’s neck. It is hollow and has no power whatsoever to bring anyone into a right relationship with the Lord. Some years ago at a conference held in Minnesota called “Re-imagining God”, one of the speakers, a Dr.Delores Williams, said these stunning words about the gospel: “I don’t think we need a theory of atonement at all. I think Jesus came for life and (to show us) how to live together, what life was all about.” She went on to say, “I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses, and blood dripping, and weird stuff.”  Compare that “no-gospel” with Paul’s bold declaration, For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, speaking on the topic of evangelism said,

“We may not preach a crucified Savior without being also crucified men and women. It is not enough to wear an ornamental cross as a pretty decoration. The cross that Paul speaks about was burned into his very flesh, was branded into his being, and only the Holy Spirit can burn the true cross into our innermost life.”

Square that, if you are able, to the hollow musings of Dr Williams, “I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses, and blood dripping, and weird stuff.” The Word of the Cross has supernatural, atoning power. Jesus brought more than a message of “how to live together”, or in today’s vernacular, “let’s just all get along.” He came to die in our stead. He came for the cross. Those who have been redeemed by his most precious shed blood will understand, for that same cross is burned like a brand into our hearts. It is not a mere ornament…it is our salvation. Let’s pray!

Merciful God; Teach me to proclaim the gospel with fierce conviction, holy boldness, and unwavering faith. There is wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb. May His Great Name be praised forever and ever. Amen!

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