The Cross: Conundrum of Church America

When I thought about this subject all I could think of was “Conundrum.” It popped into my head. We speak and live in cognitive dissonance. What is puzzling is that we preach and claim the crucified life, but scripturally we don’t seem to match-up. The scriptures mention a few things worth looking at.

Matt 5:20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. NIV
This begs the question, does our righteous surpass that of the Pharisees?

Luke 9:23-25 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? NIV

What does this look like? How can I tell if I am in self-denial, cross bearing, and following Him?

The first scripture is intertwined with the second. The general understanding of the first is that we are righteous, more righteous than the Pharisees because of Christ’s work on the cross. We are imputed righteous because of the faith in Jesus and the cleansing of the blood. Great! We could move on but. Shouldn’t we also exceed their practical, actualized righteousness?

The Pharisee did the religious part and were commended by Jesus: Yes commended: Tithing, praying, fasting and the like. But on the practical love of God, standing for justice, compassion, and mercy, they fell short. Ask yourself how are we different? Is there something we are doing distinctly different than them? If we know Him shouldn’t our goodness exceed theirs practically speaking? Obviously the answer is “yes”: We have the Holy Spirit, the unstoppable Spirit of Love. This is the enigma. Why isn’t their a difference? Hold this idea and let’s work into the next.

Deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Him! Our typical understanding of this is fair but incomplete. It usually goes this way “Hypothetically, if we were asked by Jesus to give up home, profession, car, cha-cha-cha, would we do it?” We say “Yes!” Relieved that He probably won’t, we feel we are done. Because we said “yes” we are justified and feel it is accomplished. “He knows our heart.” This reminds me of a movie I watched of boy that could become invisible if no one was looking. lol

Another understanding is to remove hindrances. Those things that would hinder righteousness should be removed to fulfill this command. We abandoned friends, family, and habits for Jesus. Anything that caused us to stumble in our pursuit is removed. Take note that this must be done as a result of faith, proving our faith for salvation. Both this and superseding the righteous of the Pharisee is what happens under the power of this faith. Both are required: this reveals the truth of our faith.

Let’s look at the primary components: the denial, the cross, the following of Jesus. Put more concretely: Put away the bucket-list, expend your life-force on others like Jesus. We are no longer like cultural Christians or the good people of our community. Our life is filled with the trouble of others; our money and time are depleted. We hunt for trouble. Didn’t Jesus? It isn’t enough to wait for the hungry to beg bread or homeless to knock on our door. We are no longer satisfied with endless, motionless Biblical studies. Church service wouldn’t be complete without drawing a beggar to the bread line.

This cross is the place of sacrifice. He did and so do we. We are CHRISTIANS so now we sacrifice ourselves. We can’t take away the sins of the world but our sacrificial life helps them come to know Him. It isn’t hypothetical, faith can’t help itself. It doesn’t wait for a special invitation because it is a command. And the faithful are eager to fulfill it.

Those of faith are distinguished by this righteousness. This is the crucified life of self-denial; we walk as Jesus did: Daily sacrifice for the world.

So go to the jail, the homeless center, the food bank, and the mental health facility. Grab up the problems of those you find and help them along. Along the way, it easy to draw them to Jesus. Maybe 1 in 10 will come to Christ but still another nine will be helped. We win either way. Live outside the Conundrum; The Cross, this sacrificial life of love!

4 thoughts on “The Cross: Conundrum of Church America

  1. Actually Jesus called the Pharisees and the Sadducess snakes and whitewashed tombs. They were not righteous, they were hypocrites and twisted the Scriptures to their own ends. We don’t have to worry about false religious people, we must follow Christ’s example in sharing the gospel and standing up for the truth, if we do that faithfully believe me we will suffer persecution just like Jesus did. In the NT epistles we are called to do good to all people, especially those who are of the household of faith because we are the blood bought children of God and know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are called to be zealous for good deeds because of our faith in Jesus Christ. Sharing the gospel with the lost is the most loving thing that we can do because they come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and are saved from an eternity in hell. If we are not preaching the gospel we are not doing Christ’s work. We are called to love on another and minister to our brothers and sisters in the faith. We are also called to be generous and share with those around us. Ask the Lord Jesus Christ for opportunity to tell others about Him and what He has done for us. Ask the Lord Jesus Christ to give you an opportunity to labor for Him and then do it. If you know the Lord Jesus Christ and are well acquainted with His Word, the Bible and filled with His Holy Spirit then you can do His will. Sometimes that looks like loving your spouse and helping your children. Sometimes that looks like being a good employee who is dependable, reliable and honest. Sometimes that looks like giving aid to other believers. Sometimes that looks like outreach to the lost and ministering to those in need. God bless you:)

  2. Thanks Cliff good word.

    Yes, Jesus said “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” I was confused by this passage of scripture for a long time. On one hand they are a brood of vipers on the other they are to be emulated and surpassed. After spending years in churches that assemble for the sake of assembling never moving beyond endless bible studies learning the ways of Christ with little practical application and practice. It finally came to me; this cannot be why God sent his Son to die for us… can it? I liken the modern day church to the “Parable of Two Sons” in Matthew…
    “Parable of Two Sons
    28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They *said, “The first.” Jesus *said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes [h]will get into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.”

    The Church has become the second Son always saying “Yes Sir” but never going.

    I believe Jesus liked the “Yes Sir” attitude toward God that the Scribes and Pharisees had and He would like us to emulate and surpass that (“unless your righteousness surpasses”). But Jesus was heartbroken and disgusted that they would not move beyond “Yes Sir” into obedience, compassion and mercy on the lost, never living a sacrificial life (a brood of vipers).

    I think the three words Jesus hates most are; “Not my ministry”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s