SIMPLE TRUTH: Are you an enemy of the cross?

Published 12:50 pm Tuesday, March 25, 2014

By Charles Christmas

The persons called “believers” like to sing about the cross, thank God for the cross, rejoice in God’s forgiveness and “salvation” because of the cross, celebrate the cross and teach and preach about the cross. But the simple truth is that such persons can do all the above and yet be enemies of the cross. The Apostle Paul exhorted the believers to follow his example. “Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their god is their fleshly desires; they approve what is a shame and have a mind that is earthly and not spiritual” (Philippians 3:17-19).

I have detected in my counseling ministries, and by observing friends, family and churches, that professing believers may often, in fact, be “enemies of the cross.” Being enemies of the cross is revealed primarily in having never learned to forgive, to love or to make peace and keep peace with others.

Bitterness, anger, resentment, an unwillingness to forgive and hurt feelings may lie seething underneath the surface as persons sit in their Bible class or worship center on Sunday morning. They know nothing or little about “living the cross” and are in fact enemies of the cross. It is only at the cross where we receive forgiveness and it is also only at the cross where we learn to forgive and receive help to forgive. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, slander … forgiving one another even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Jesus gave what he called “a new commandment” relating to love. There was only one thing new in the “new commandment:” it was the example “as I have loved you.” “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 3:34). In Paul’s instruction to believing husbands he said, “Husbands love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). We not only learn of God’s love for us at the cross, but also there only do we learn to love others with a cross-like and Christ-life love.

We find peace with God only at the cross. Referring to the cross of Christ, the Bible says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself. For God has made Jesus, who knew no sin, to become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:19-21). We who have experienced reconciliation and peace with God at the cross are now obligated to live the cross in our on lives by being peacemakers and having the attitudes and actions that promote peace and provide an atmosphere for peace.

There probably is no greater need within the Christian, the Christian family and the Christian church than to go to the cross in order to learn how to forgive, how to love and how to pursue and promote peace. Otherwise, we are enemies of the cross.

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.