Friday, March 27, 2015

LENT - The provocative cross

The cross is provocative ... no doubt about it.

And yet, we can't avoid it. This agonizing instrument of death is central to our identity as Christians. We wear it around our necks, we hoist it on our steeples and we claim to take it up as we follow Christ. It remains a majestic, mysterious and fitting focal point for our worship of a God who transforms evil into good and provokes us to follow him in faith.

There's just no escaping the cross. It's not a prime-time special that we can turn off at will, and it's not a public execution that we can choose to turn away from and ignore. No, as Christians we are required to be witnesses for this execution, and to witness it in a way that means more than giving intellectual assent to the central role of the cross in a particular plan of salvation. Our role is to be truly "provoked" by the cross -- a word which comes from the Latin provocare, which means "to call forth." God uses the cross to provoke us, to call us forth, to stimulate us to action, to arouse our passion.

This means that we witness the execution by embracing a life of sacrificial service. Hebrews speaks of a ministry of encouragement and mutual support, one that involves meeting together, provoking one another to love and good deeds, and acting as a passionate community of faith. The cross is powerfully provocative as it calls us forth and stimulates us to love one another, to do good and to be the Body of Christ in the world.