About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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A Living Symbol
(The Cross of Christ)


"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel - not with words with human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but for us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:17 - 18 NIV).


One thing we should know about the cross of Christ that Paul referenced here is that our western world Evangelical representation of the cross might not be the cross's actual shape.  The cross's shape has been debated for centuries.  There are three possibilities of what it could have looked like.  It could have been the shape of a capital "T," a capital "X," or a small letter "t."  More important than its shape is the message of the cross, which Paul said should never be preached with humanistic wisdom lest the Holy Spirit's power that accompanies its preaching is disabled.     


Paul said that for those of us who are in the process of being saved the message of the cross is the power of God.  Note that it's the message of the cross, and I'd say spoken under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that is the power of God.  Two pieces of wood have no inherent power, even if Jesus died on them.  The cross was a tool in the hand of God to accomplish His will, and once accomplished, it was on to the next step of the redemptive process, on to the resurrection, on to Jesus having universal supremacy over all things material and all things spiritual.    


I understand the sentimental significance the symbol of the cross, and it is a symbol, has had for us Christians over the centuries.  I know the frustration when the cross is removed from public places in our anti-Christ culture.  I don't underestimate that, but if a symbol could save someone we should be passing them out on the street corners.  If a symbol could produce the life of Jesus in us who are being saved, we should wear it on a chain around our necks, but we all know even with its eternal significance, the cross can do none of that. 


There is nothing inherently wrong with wearing a cross on a chain around our necks, but more important than that is how the power of the cross is realized and demonstrated in our lives.  We, not a symbol, are empowered by the Spirit of God to be the living symbol, the witnesses of Jesus as Acts 1:8 states. 


In 2 Corinthians 3:3 Paul

said that every Christian is a living letter, penned by the Holy Spirit for all to read.  What do people learn when they read your letter of life?  If you are not that living, life giving letter, you become a poor representation of Jesus.  You nullify any significance the symbol of the cross could possibly have.  More importantly, you nullify, even disable, the power of the Holy Spirit that should accompany the gospel you preach and the life you live.  


May your life be a living symbol, a living letter, of the resurrected Jesus who now sits in a place of supreme authority over all things. 

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