The Centrality of the Cross

15 June 2012

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

The cross was the single greatest event in all of history. The universe changed forever when our Lord died for His people. Satan, and his army were defeated. The shackles of the law that held God’s people in bondage were broken in pieces. The captives were set free. At the cross, heaven was made sure for all of the elect: “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?....It is Christ that died.”

Paul would glory in nothing else. The once proud Pharisee, who had the world in the palm of his hand, saw the cross as his North Star, the light that would guide his ship through dark nights, and stormy seas. Glory in his pedigree? No! Glory in his education as a Pharisee of the Pharisees? No! Glory in his worldly accomplishments? No! No! And a thousands times no! He would glory in the cross!

When Paul saw Christ’s cross through the eye of faith it changed him forever. He became dead to the world, and the world became dead to him. It changed his world-view. It changed his desires. It changed his personal pursuits. It changed the way that he looked at himself. He counted everything that the world had to offer as “dung” that he might win Christ. The center of his life changed from self, to Christ. That is what we mean by the term, centrality. It is a change from a self-centered life to a Christ-centered life.

Is this experience unique to the apostle? Is he the only one that glories in the cross? Surely not! I have found his experience true in the life of countless others who have seen their suffering Lord through the eye of faith, peering at them with loving eyes from His cross. It is then that Christ, His church, and His people become the center of their lives.

When the cross of Christ becomes the center of a person’s life, all actions are measured by it. All hopes are fastened to it. Purpose in life is defined there. Personal worth to God is understood by Christ’s suffering love. Yes, the whole world, yea, the whole universe revolves around it.

The cross keeps us focused on who we are, why we are here, what we are supposed to do while we are here, where we came from, and where we are going. The cross is the common denominator that makes all saints equal: sinners saved by grace.
There is also a motivating force found in the cross that activates a person’s faith. If their Savior suffered so much for them, they will suffer so much for Him. They will give their time, their assets, and their hearts, to serve Him. This is faith that worketh by love.

Yes, a suffering Savior enables a person to accept the unacceptable, to be abused, hated, defamed, reviled, reproached, even unto death. It must have been our Savior’s cross that enabled the early Christians to die for Him…for He died for them. Yet, He did nothing amiss.

It is the cross that enables us to forgive. At the cross, God the Father forgave us for Christ’s sake. If we were forgiven so much, surely we can forgive so little. When we measure our offerings to God, to His house, to His people, to the poor, the cross is, once again, the center. When Paul encouraged the church at Corinth to support the saints he pointed them to the cross: “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.” Paul was simply saying this to the Corinthians: “That is His gift to you. What is your gift to Him?”

By all of this, we understand the concept concerning the centrality of the cross. Did you know that the word cross is not found in the Old Testament? Though it was referred to in types and shadows, the actual word is not found. How God would deliver His people was not fully revealed at that time. So, what was their motivating force? What was their guide? The law, of course. Strict, stern, severe, impersonal, yet a guide it was for those who obeyed. And though we have the law today to use as a guide, we have something much better: we have a cross. The cross is love in action, personal, and powerful. It accomplished its intended design, and implores us to suffer by love’s example. Oh, what comfort we find at the cross! Our hopes of seeing our loved ones who have departed this life are seated at the cross. Peace is found there. For the sins that stain our conscience were washed away by the precious blood of the cross. The strength we need to overcome temptation is found at Christ’s cross, who never gave up.

So, what do you see when you survey the cross? Is it nothing to you? “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.” (Lamentations 1:12)

“When I survey the wondrous cross; On which the prince of glory died; My richest gain I count but loss; And pour contempt on all my pride; Forbid it Lord that I should boast; Save in the death of Christ my God; All the vain things that charm me most; I sacrifice them to His blood” -Isaac Watts

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