I was struck again the other day, as I read from a national publication, the way many in this world still view the Christian Faith. A respected American thinker was spewing out his hatred of religion by calling Christians “Stupid...simple….cowardly.” I was reminded of the fact, which we would rather forget, that it was a “shameful” thing to declare oneself a Christian in those early days of the Faith. Even the writer of Hebrews speaks about Jesus “enduring the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The Apostle Paul says God “chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.” (I Corinthians 1:28).
We like to think of our faith as respected and admired. We like to think of God’s plan of salvation as being hailed with applause by people filled with awe. But it was never that way. Satan sees to it that God’s ways are not just seen as different than ours but as scandalous, as shameful, and even, as in more recent days, bigoted and unloving.
We like to look to Easter as the greatest day of celebration for the Church. But we can’t get to Easter Sunday without going through Crucifixion Friday. And, lest we try to bypass its importance, the Lord gave His Church two ordinances that are rooted in the cross. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are meant to be memorials of that shameful and despised tool of torture. Our Lord has confronted the world head on with these things and demands that His Church do the same thing.
It isn’t a “lovely” thing to become a Christian. By many it will always be considered an act of revulsion. The Apostle Paul said, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” (I Corinthians 1:18). And we dare not make that decision thoughtlessly. But remember, for us, He has forever changed the stigma of the cross from defeat to victory. Or, as one preacher put it, “It may be Friday, but Sunday is coming.”
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship