And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased
The Apostle Paul makes a revealing comment here in the book of Galatians: that those who preach the law with its emphasis on rules and behavior modification do not suffer persecution, since that message is acceptable to self righteous, natural man; but the message of the cross causes offense, since it points to the depravity of mankind.
People are comfortable believing that they are basically good; but the cross is an exposition of the human heart.
Left to our own devices, we will always look after ourselves and take advantage of others, and when God sent a Savior to help us, we nailed Him to a cross!
This is a disturbing message that none of us is really anywhere near as good as we pretend to be.
Not only that, but the image of the cross calls for us to forsake our passions, desires and ambitions, and to live for God. It calls for our death to self.
We think that God’s primary purpose is to make us happy, but we are wrong; God’s primary purpose is for us to worship Him.
As we die to ourselves and forsake the life of a natural man, the resurrection life that flows into us will give us a quality of happiness and fulfillment that is way beyond anything we could have known on our own, but the challenge to die is still an offence. It means that all of our talents, our health, our wealth, our beauty and our advantages, are not for us to enjoy for ourselves, but to give Jesus and His Kingdom the advantage on the Earth. That is a challenging prospect!
Finally, the cross proclaims that there is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ.
If you are willing to concede that Jesus is one of many options, you will be popular with the crowd, but if you say that Jesus is the ONLY way, people won’t like you criticizing the thing that they are interested in – maybe New Age, or Buddha, or intellectualism.
Yet that is exactly the message of the cross. Man cannot lift himself up by force of His own intellect; he has to bow the knee to Jesus – either now or later – since every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the undisputed champion and Lord of the Earth.
We cannot bring God down onto our level, by trying to make Him acceptable to human beings. It is we who need to be made acceptable to Him. And the mystery that makes that so exciting, in spite of what it sounds like is this: as we abandon ourselves totally to Him, we will get ALL of Him in return. What a glorious and amazing prize!