‘No, of course not’ we reply! At least not until someone offends us....In truth we can all be pretty easy to rub the wrong way with fireworks resulting. I remember once calling on a couple seeking to try to resolve a conflict. I asked them if I could speak to them plainly and was told that it was this kind of talk that they wanted. I spoke for what seemed like a matter of moments only to have the wife walk out! As I write these words I wonder how often I have flown ‘of the handle’, making a mountain out of a molehill- many more times than I would care to remember!
The Apostle Paul once used an unusual phrase which speaks volumes to us today; ‘the offence of the cross’. What is this offence? Don’t we all love the symbol of the cross with most of us choosing it as a piece of jewellery? It is often been said that nobody in the ancient world would ever have done this, no more than we would think of parading ourselves with a hang man’s noose around our necks. The fact is that, during the Roman Empire, the cross communicated an absolutely horrendous death, something that was truly the stuff of nightmares.
However, this was not Paul’s primary thought when he spoke of the ‘offence of the cross’. To fully face the Apostle’s challenge here we need to grasp a truth.
The spectacle of Jesus Christ going through hell on the cross is the supreme statement on how big a deal our sin problem is. Like an alcoholic bending over backwards to make sure everybody thinks things are okay, we kid ourselves that we really aren’t that bad. But look to the cross and we see the truth. Our sin is bad. More than bad, our sin is massive. It is over our heads. And there isn’t a thing that we can do about it.
After all, it took the death of Jesus to undo what we had done. The next time you see a cross think- even if I had been the only person alive, this is what it would have taken Christ to save me! That, my friend is ‘the offence of the cross’- do you feel it?
The good news is that for those who can accept that offence and face up to their sin there is full forgiveness in Jesus. Only sin that is accepted can be given to Him to forgive, on the basis of His sin-bearing death on the cross.