A young Christian rationalizes his cursing, expressing his “need” to fit in with his peers. Someone habitually falls asleep during Bible study or worship. A Christian woman tends to talk bad to her friend about their mutual companion. A middle-aged couple forms the habit of missing evening assemblies to be with friends or pursue others interests. Several Christians silently fret over their inability to focus while partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Some of the brethren seem indifferent to the work of the church. What is happening with these precious children of God?
Several scenarios have been portrayed, but there is in them but a single issue. Why do people, even Christians, slip away from the Lord? The first several words of George Bennard’s famous hymn are, “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame.” So, what does one do when it seems that Christ died on a hill too far away?
The most dangerous thing that can happen to anyone is for the cross of Christ to lose its meaning. It CAN lose its meaning for people. Paul said, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (1 Cor. 1:17).
Does the cross have much meaning for the Christian’s friends and colleagues whose words and actions assault that for which the cross stands? Willful sin is against the cross (cf. Heb. 6:4-6). People hurt Christ all over again because the cross means, if their actions accurately reflect their hearts, little more to them than does a fairy tale or ancient history. Because of a desire to please the world, the Christian can develop such an attitude toward the cross. In this moral quandary, he can choose to be close to the enemies of the cross instead of the One who died there. But, when one chooses the world over Christ, HE becomes God’s enemy, too (cf. Ecc. 8:11; Js. 4:4).
Perhaps a few brief facts will help children of God, especially when the hill far away seems too far away.
REMEMBER THAT THE CROSS IS REAL. Paul taught this without equivocation (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4). Contemporaries of the cross attest to its historicity. Atheists and skeptics only have blind eyes for the plain facts because they know that acceptance of them means they must obey the doctrine of Christ (cf. Rom. 6:17). But the fact, according to Paul, are simple; namely, Christ really died, He was buried, and He arose! What the Bible teaches that Christ did for humanity as a whole and the individual in particular is true! The cross is real!
REMEMBER THAT THE CROSS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!
–Christ died for everyone’s sins on the cross (Rom. 8:8). He died for the seemingly insignificant, seemingly minor sins. He also died for the big, ugly, embarrassing, shameful sins!
–Christ died to bring man back to God on the cross (Rom. 8:34). Because of his sins, man was rejected by God. God wanted nothing to do with any vile person (note: Rom. 3:23). But, because of Christ, anyone can come back to God who obeys Him.
–Christ died to be the ruler of the human heart on the cross (Rom. 14:19; Gal. 2:20).
–Christ died to show the individual how much He loves him on the cross (2 Cor. 5:14-15; John 14:23).
–Christ died to open the door to heaven, shut by the separating power of sin, on the cross (1 Thes. 4:14; Isa. 59:1-2). Thus, in its importance the cross exceeds all else!
REMEMBER THAT THE CROSS IS REALLY SPECIAL. Only Christ could have hung there. No one else was qualified. Only the blood of Christ was right in God’s sight for cleansing man from his ugly sins. Only His love, as shown by the cross, is strong enough to bring one’s love of this world.
REMEMBER THAT THE CROSS WAS REALLY NECESSARY. Christ had to die to satisfy God’s perfect justice. Though all sin, no sinner, of himself, has anything to offer God to satisfy His just requirements. Everyone needs what Christ gave on that hill far away (cf. Eph. 2:8-9). There’s no good news to obey without the cross (cf. Rom. 1:16; 5:5-9). If no cross, then no hope, no joy and no heaven!!
What can we do when the cross seems so distant from us in our spiritual lives? Understanding the reality, the importance, the uniqueness and the necessity thereof, we will be prompted to renew our zeal and dedication to the suffering servant who died there for us (Heb. 5:8-9). Matchless love led God to Calvary. It is love that leads us back to Calvary!