Folly of the cross

This is my reflection on 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

We are completely confounded. What we label as wisdom has been turned on its head. What we desire as indicators is beyond belief. But the reality remains. The truth of who Christ is and what he has accomplished stands above all of our reason and mysticism.

No one may boast in his presence. God chose to do things in a fashion that is glaringly absurd. It is beyond logic and the greater folly might be when we attempt to make it logical… It all points to the cross. The intersection of disbelief and the horror of our disobedience’s earned reward. It is this place that we preach, it is this tool of freedom that we declare, it is this true work of grace that we proclaim. Many will call it silly. More will call it delusion. But He calls it purpose. He calls it a plan. He calls it an instrument of His glory.

We know the truth of the saying that this message of the cross is folly; then why do we not preach it alone. Why must we toy with truth and tinker with revelation so we might seem more clever and practical by worldly standards? Should we not reclaimed the “folly” of what the apostles preached?

We have spent too much time boasting in the wrong things. In systems, in numbers, in finances. It is time we boast in the folly. Turn others toward it. Make it our plan for life and not just a ticket to paradise. The cross, the truth of the gospel is absolutely absurd to those unchanged by God’s spirit but to those being save – catch that “being” it is ongoing – it is the power of God.

Let us pursue that power.


Pick your scandal

This last week I had the great opportunity to preach at “The Stand” a youth gathering at a church in Camas, Washington. My good friend Steven is the youth pastor and he set a theme for the night as “Scandalous” which was influenced by the book by the same name by D.A. Carson.

I focused on the division between Romans 1:18-23 and 3:21-24, that of sin and the cross. The message was that there are two scandals and we are to choose the one we will embrace.

The first scandal is one all of humanity takes part in. It is the scandal of sin. A perfect creation despises the creator and turns from him in pursuit of our own pleasure and glory – but the perfection is ruined and we have hearts of darkness missing what we were made for. You have no choice but to experience this scandal but there is another where you can find hope.

This hopeful scandal is the scandal of the cross. A perfect God presents himself, Jesus Christ, as the sacrifice needed to cover the scandal of sin and reconcile creation to him. It is a bloody, messy and undeserved cross but Christ takes it on and defeats sin, defeats death and gives those that believe in him new life.

These are the two scandals you get to choose from. There are no other roads. The absolute truth is that you are faced with the path of death or the path of life.

Just as I challenged the youth to choose the scandal of the cross, I hope that you too will live in response to the cross. Embrace the scandal…


The Cross We Deserve

We have entered the season of Advent and we wait with growing expectation to celebrate the birth of our savior. But in the midst of the present buying and carol singing I am struck by the amount of reflection I am doing on the Cross of Christ.

Whether in texts for school or small group conversations I am drawn to dwell on the significance of the Cross where Jesus finally covered us in redemption and forgiveness. The Cross however was not a clean exercise in death. It was devastatingly gruesome and disturbing. Other do a much better job at fully describing crucifixion and the agony it would entail. We even have the modern word ‘excruciating’ which was created to describe the pain.

It was gory and despicable. There must be a reason Christ came at that point in history and experienced what he did. If he had come today, would he have been “lethally injected” and succumbed to this “humane” form of execution? How would we respond to Christ’s death had it been “easy” in light of the fact that we are the ones that deserved to die?

The gruesome nature of the Cross has me realizing what I deserve. Because of sin I am the one that deserves to be tortured and maimed. I deserve humiliation and condemnation. I deserve the suffocation from my own weight and shame. But I don’t face this death because God himself stood in my place, and yours, to atone for our prideful turning from our creator.

The weight of the Cross is hanging in the air like a fresh winter snow for me. Just as the snow covers the ground in purity, Christ’s blood covers me in grace and righteousness. Because of the Cross I am availed to relationship with the one that hold the realms of life and death, earth and universe. May the weight of the Cross draw me further to repentance and belief in Jesus.

Without the birth there is no Cross, and without the Cross there is no (re)birth. Let us be about the anticipation of Christmas and the realization of the Cross.