It seems the tremendous sacrifice of the rugged cross has been minimized to a wooden symbol we attach to God. That symbol is linked to chains around people’s neck, tattooed on different parts of their bodies, erected over buildings, and imprinted on t-shirts and other items, but the intimate connection between God and soul seems to be missing. Churches keep growing bigger and bigger, with more programs and ways to evangelize, yet our willingness to personally connect with God becomes less heavenly minding and more earthly prone.
Churchgoing feels much like a duty and a social gathering one participates in, a tradition if you will, with God thrown in for good measure. We move in haste from one event to another without giving much thought to what we left behind.
I know it’s a shocking thing to say. I am simply writing from what I have experienced through the lives of others and in my own life at times; however, I know this is not the way all Christ followers live.
Another thing I have found unnerving is that pastors seldom offer altar calls anymore at churches I have visited. When I was 19 years old, I knew next to nothing about God or Christianity. I had never really stepped into a church with the exception an event I don’t even remember I attended at a church when I was 10 years old and sat with my squirmy cousins who also knew next to nothing about God.
I attended Calvary Chapel in San Diego at 19, (only because a friend dragged me there) and for the first time really heard the Gospel and was prompted to make the decision to receive Jesus as my savior during the altar call. I am sure that had that altar call not been made, I would have walked out of that church without making a decision for Christ, and quickly moved on to whatever was next on my agenda, missing the opportunity of a lifetime. So I’m eternally grateful Pastor Mike Macintosh took the time to make that call.
Altar calls are uncomfortable for most, sometimes placing a heaviness on our hearts, a soul-to-Spirit awareness with God, a sense of accountability we’d rather live without. It’s as normal as human nature itself.
There’s a saying that goes something like this:
If the devil can’t make Christ followers walk away
from God, he does the next best thing:
he keeps them busy-busy!
I genuinely believe most people don’t realize how much they push God to the back burner in their busyness.
The following essay was written by a very sweet lady I know. I believe it is worth sharing.
Where Is the “Rugged” Cross?
What have we done with the “rugged” cross? Sanded? Polished? Smoothed the rough edges? Made sure there are no splinters? A thing of beauty?
In so doing has the truth of the cross been softened? Christ did not spill His blood for our sins on an ornate cross…it was rough hewn timbers lashed together. His back, already shredded by the cruel whipping He bore, endured more torture from the roughened wood.
Our churches are places of beauty, peace and tranquility. No rugged, blood-stained cross occupies the platform. Sinners are not falling on their knees at the altar pleading God’s forgiveness for their sins. We sit in our pews, listening to the message of the gospel but what are we doing with it? Is it really reaching our hearts or just making us feel good…we did our duty…went to church on Sunday…gave some money to the Lord’s work. Now, can we get on with our lives? That responsibility is taken care of for another week. A ritual that doesn’t ruffle our feathers…therapy of the soul?
My soul yearns for prayer time at the altar. A place of pouring out my heart to the Christ of the “rugged” cross. Yes, it can be done at home but there is just a difference in kneeling with others before the throne, crying out to God, repenting, laying our needs before Him, communing in God’s House. “Burdens are lifted at Calvary”…placed on the altar before the Lord, similar to the sacrifices in the Old Testament when the people brought offerings for their sins…we now have the blood-stained cross where we may lay our load.
Often times the pastor presents a sermon that should bring us to our knees but we calmly walk from the sanctuary and leave the message behind. It is now time to fellowship, laugh and have a good time! We are heading to eternity!! Shouldn’t that make us pause in our hurry…scurry lives to do some soul searching? God doesn’t promise us even the next breath of air! All around us people are dying and yet we treat church like another form of entertainment!
Where has the “rugged” cross been hidden? Isn’t it time to bring it back to the forefront?
Essay written by Barbie Sain, June 2014
By ~ Elizabeth Yalian 2013-2014 ©http://hiseyeisonthissparrow.com. ♛