The cross. An implement of death to the malefactor; an artifact of jewelry worn about the neck of so
many of present-day society, be they saint or sinner, darling or devil. The cross. An enigma in any man’s world
for it’s original intention only spoke of death … a slow and painful death by execution. This it did and
continued to do as long as it was permitted to remain what it had been originally―a cross. Its power departed
when it was changed from a thing of death to a thing of beauty. When men made it a symbol, hung it around
their necks as an ornament, or made its outline before their faces as a magic sign to ward off evil, then it became
at best a weak emblem, at worst a positive fetish. As such it is revered today by millions who know absolutely
nothing about its power.
The cross effects its ends by destroying one established pattern, the victim’s, and creating another
pattern, its own. Thus it always has its way. It wins by defeating its opponent and imposing its will upon him. It
always dominates. It never compromises, dickers, confers, nor surrenders a point for the sake of peace. It cares
not for peace but only to end its opposition as fast as possible.
With perfect knowledge of all this Christ said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and
take up his cross, and follow me.” So the cross not only brings Christ’s life to an end, it ends also the first life,
the old life, of every one of His true followers. It destroys the old pattern, the Adam pattern, in the believer’s
life, and brings it to an end. Then the God who raised Christ from the dead raises the believer and a new life begins.
This, and nothing less, is true Christianity. The cross stands high above the opinions of men and to that
cross all opinions must come at last for judgment. A shallow and worldly leadership would modify the cross to
please the entertainment-mad flock who would have their fun even within the very sanctuary; but to do so is to
court spiritual disaster and risk the anger of the Lamb turned Lion.
We must do something about the cross, and one of only two things can we do―flee it or die upon it.
And if we should be so foolhardy as to run, we shall by that act put away the faith of our fathers and make of
Christianity something other than it is. Then we shall have left only the empty language of salvation; the power
will depart with our departure from the true cross.
If we are wise, we will do what Jesus did: endure the cross and despise its shame for the joy that is set
before us. To do this is to submit the whole pattern of our lives to be destroyed and built again in the power of
an endless life. And we shall find that it is more than poetry, more than sweet singing and elevated feeling. The
cross will cut into our lives where it hurts most, sparing neither us nor our carefully cultivated reputations. It
will defeat us and bring our selfish lives to an end. Only then can we rise in the fullness of life to establish a
pattern of living wholly new, free, and full of good works.
Yes, indeed! Only then do Paul’s words find expression in their amazing declaration: “Therefore if any
man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary's mountain.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.