“The old cross would have no truce with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race, rather it is a friendly pal, and if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun, and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged, he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious films, instead of singing bawdy songs, and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally, if not intellectually.
The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelical approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life, before the new life can be received. He seeks to key in to public interest, by showing that Christianity makes not unpleasant demands, rather it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. The new cross does not slay the sinner. Rather it redirects him. The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt and violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up His cross and started down the road had already said farewell to His friends. He was not coming back. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more. The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation, and no escape… our message is not a compromise, but an ultimatum.” ~Dr. A.W. Tozer
I’ve been thinking about this idea a lot lately, before I even read this passage. Tozer has articulated some of what I’ve been bothered by. I’ve been pondering what really distinguishes a Christian in this world, what really distinguishes me in this world. What cross do I believe in? I mean actually, with my life, believe in? Or do I continue to spend my money how I want on what I want, continue to conduct my relationships how I want, continue to eat what I want and how much I want, and in general continue to live my life in a self-serving manner with a bit of Christian seasoning shaken on top? Somehow we justify it, not biblically but with our cultural Christianity: It’s okay to live my life how I want as long as I’m nice to people, give to charity sometimes, and don’t tell too many lies. “The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally, if not intellectually.”
But the old cross is unappealing and even scary. We can hang the new cross on a pretty chain around our necks. The old cross will give us blisters and splinters and a sore back. Tell me which one you find more appealing. I know which one I find more appealing. Yet that choice leaves me with a nagging feeling that I’m seriously missing out on something. Could it be that Beauty is not necessarily all that pretty?