I was struck again, 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. 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 that 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 and 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, as not worth our consideration.
We like to look at 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, both of which are 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.
The ancient Roman town of Herculaneum was buried in AD 79, along with Pompeii and other towns on the Bay of Naples, by the ash and lava of Mt. Vesuvius. When it was dug up in the 20th century they discovered a room in which a cross had been affixed to the wall with a little altar beneath it. That meant that almost as soon as Christianity began to spread across the empire that the cross had already been transformed from a symbol of disgrace to a symbol of victory, at least in the hearts and minds of its followers.
It isn’t a “lovely” thing to become a Christian. By many it will always be considered an act of revulsion. 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’s coming!”
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship