Beware of Sanitizing the Cross: Devotional for March 7, 2022

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Today’s Bible reading from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Numbers 8-11; Colossians 1

We must beware of sanitizing the cross. At times, you may have used the word “excruciating.” Oh, that concert was excruciating. Oh that pain was excruciating. If you put that word beside the word “crucifixion,” you see the connection. This touches on the pain, the agony of a crucifixion.

We also see something in the realm of architecture. A number of years ago, when the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting was in Orlando, our family went to St. Andrew’s Chapel where one of my favorite theologians, R.C. Sproul, pastored. I loved the layout of the sanctuary. Once you walked in from the vestibule, you see a long room with two smaller portions on the side, then it would come back in as it reached the pulpit area. This was not a mere architectural license taken by the builder. If you were to look at that room from above, you would see that the sanctuary itself was in the shape of a cross—known as cruciform. The point was clear: just as the building had a cruciform layout, so should our lives.

I was thinking about this today. The words “excruciating” which means pain and agony have the same form as a form of architecture intentionally used for a church. To the ones on the outside looking in, how in the world could anyone—anyone—celebrate or build their church or their lives around such an object?

Why would Paul tell the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). And later, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Why would Paul, knowing that the Corinthians were impressed with the orators of the day, choose to come among them “with lofty speech or wisdom” deciding “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:1-2). Nothing?

That’s right–nothing! Everything he did in life and ministry was tethered to the cross. May that be the same for us!

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