It is a blessed and solemn thing to preach Christ and Him crucified. Christ's atoning work is the centerpiece of our faith and ground of our hope. It is simultaneously God's most graphic display of love and excrusiating moment of judgement. The cross is where God's justice and mercy meet. It is the complete vindication of His holiness and the most outrageous expression of His love. The cross is the grand fulfillment of God's redemptive purpose.
But the cross is still offensive. Indeed, the cross is just as weak and foolish and scandalous as it was when Jesus began announcing his intention to go to Jerusalem and die.
What is surprising is to see what a stumbling block the cross is in the church. Too many professing Christians want a helpful Jesus-as-lifecoach. They don't want the bloodied Messiah weighed down under the wrath of God for our sin. They want a guru, a spiritual advisor, or a divine guaranteur of success and health. The crucified Substitute however is still the scandalon.
The words of an email I received yesterday illustrate the point well:
"Must every sermon be about Christ bloodied and dying on the cross as the 'real' meaning of Christmas shared by the 'enlightened' as if we hadn't heard it before? Isn't there enough time during Lent, Easter and the rest of the year to teach that lesson?"
Of course, yesterday was my first sermon as pastor of COS. But so far, everyone of them has dealt with the centrality of Christ and Him crucified. We'll see what the second sermon brings.
The man who sent that email went on to praise the ministry and teaching of Joel Osteen which I believe is very instructive. I will not ridicule the man. That is why I will not print his name or the entire message. Clearly he is someone in pain. I pray that the Lord will change his heart.
I would simply say that too many evangelicals haven't "heard it before." Clearly that lesson has not been taught adequately "during Lent, Easter and the rest of the year."
I suppose if there is something wrong with our preaching of the cross if we never get messages like the one I received yesterday.