“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
We live in an age of ‘multi’ this and ‘multi’ that; an age that is described with words like pluralism and diverse. What is important is that nothing in particular be distinguished. We wouldn’t want to offend, would we? In the life of the church it isn’t any different. The historical-critical approach to studying the Bible, for example, has resulted in scissors and paste pet theologies that run in every imaginable direction. The aimless flight of reason and experience know no boundaries. God forbid that we should dare speak of ‘The Truth’.
A small town parade was making its way down main street. Floats provided by various community groups sailed slowly along as the high school marching band stepped lively, accompanying itself with a rousing march. But the talk of the town, literally, was none of this. For as the parade moved along, the folks gathered on the sidewalks applauded wildly for the six year old boy who marched ahead of the band. Resolute and determined he kept his own pace, all the while sounding one, solitary note on his trumpet.
The purpose of Christian proclamation is to bear witness to Jesus Christ, especially His Cross. The Resurrection must also be taken with radical seriousness but not at the expense of the Cross. For, beginning with St. Paul, the exalted Lord is proclaimed as the One who was crucified. But why? Why this one, solitary note where Jesus is concerned?
The cross surely does say to us that God is there in the deepest valleys and hurts of life, even unto death. But first and foremost, the Cross proclaims that God meets us precisely at the point of our deepest need, the very point where we reject Him, on the Cross itself. This is why the central Gospel word, spoken from the Cross, is the Word of forgiveness. Forgiveness, reconciliation with God is our deepest need.
The cross is also the Church’s solitary note because we proclaim a hidden God, not a God breaking out in all kinds of glory, not in this life. God’s glory parades around in weakness and lowliness; God the Word comes in simple words, water, bread and wine, despised things, even by many in the churches. The purpose of this hidden God is to bury Himself so deeply within the muck and mire of our sin that we simply give up, die and glory in nothing except the Cross of our Lord Jesus, “…through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”
So, the next time you’re in some church, whatever else they are parading around, hope and pray that you hear little ‘Johnny one Note’ playing the scandalous, solitary Word of the Cross, the message concerning the crucified and hidden God who forgives real sinners and promises one day to raise them from the dead. For in that one note of the Cross is contained the fullness of God’s grand symphony of love and grace – and it sounds for you.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”