The cross of Christ is the heart of the Christian faith. It is essential to understanding the message of the Bible. And it is the very best part of the very best news that the world has ever heard. Yet in many churches, the cross is hard to find. It may be present in the architecture. It may be visible on the screens. People might be wearing it as jewelry. But the cross is stunningly absent from the songs and sermons in many congregations. Why?
Lots of people these days are eager to embrace a self-help, relational-therapy version of Christianity. This is a version of Christianity where God is a loving best friend and nothing more, where ideas like God’s righteousness and wrath have no place, where no one really needs the cross. (God didn’t send Jesus to save me from my sin, as if I needed saving…He sent Jesus to help me have my best life now, right?) Others, both inside and outside the church, think of the cross as a last remaining vestige of primitive, ancient superstition. (Haven’t we grown out of that pagan infatuation with blood and sacrifice?) Finally, there are some who express hostility toward the entire notion that Christ suffered as a substitute, that God would will or demand such a thing, or that God can even be good if he wills the death of his only Son. (Isn’t that like divine child abuse?)
This Sunday at Capitol City, we’re beginning a new sermon series called In My Place Condemned He Stood. It is our effort to bring us back to the cross, to bring us back to the central building blocks of our faith and the gospel. In this series, we will trace the theme of substitutionary atonement – the teaching that Jesus bore the wrath of God, for us, in our place – through the whole Bible, so that we can see the centrality of the cross and the glory of God in it.
If you live in or around northeast Lincoln, we’d love to see you here.