Monday Devotions – Keeping the Cross Central

Yesterday morning at our Sunday gathering our senior pastor Josh Harris spoke on 1 Cor. 2:1-5.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

This passage is one of many that reveals Paul’s commitment to live a cross-centered life. In illustrating what that means, Josh described setting up a large cross in the middle of your living room. It may not match your décor or the style of other elements in the room, but that doesn’t matter. Everyone who comes into your home understands that the cross is the focus of your life to which everything else conforms.

However, the world encourages us to “redecorate” our homes so that the cross is no longer central. Maybe it will look better in the hallway, or perhaps in the study, or even the basement or attic, where it’s still in our home, but out of sight and out of mind.

Today is my day off and I’m aerating, fertilizing, and seeding my lawn. It’s a ritual I go through each fall, thinking that next spring I’ll finally have a thick, lush green carpet for a yard, rather than patches of dirt interspersed with weeds and thin, a few blades of grass.

It so happened that the conditions today for aerating are perfect. It’s been raining quite a bit in Gaithersburg recently, so the ground is soft. The sun is out and temperatures should reach the mid 80’s. It’s supposed to rain again in a few days, which will increase the effect of the fertilizer and help the grass seed take root.

As I was picking up the aerator from the rental place, the cashier commented, “You sure picked the perfect day to do this.” I responded,’ Yes, God has been very kind.” He then responded with, “Someone up there must like you.”

Hmmm. I paused and thought to myself, “Yes, but it’s certainly not because of anything I’ve done.” But I kept quiet. I paid for the aerator, packed it into my van, and drove off. I realized afterwards that I was guilty of momentarily “redecorating” my spiritual house.

As much as the world might tempt me, the cross can never move to a peripheral position in my thinking, my words, or my life. Why wouldn’t I acknowledge that I don’t deserve God’s kindness? There could be a number of reasons. Maybe I was afraid of looking like a Christian fanatic. Maybe I didn’t want to get into a long conversation. Maybe I thought that I really have done something to deserve God “liking” me.

But the cross never lets me forget. What I “deserve” is clearly seen in the Son of God bleeding and dying in my place, enduring the death I will never see, paying the debt I could never pay. God has been, and will always be, indescribably kind to me.

Praise be to God for His bountiful mercy towards sinners, which unlike my lawn, appears fresh and strong not only every year, but every morning.

3 Responses to Monday Devotions – Keeping the Cross Central

  1. Joe Anderson September 18, 2006 at 8:04 PM #

    Bob,

    Thanks for the honest story about your trip to the hardware store.

    I’m lucky in that God hasn’t let me forget Brent Detwiler’s sermon on the Cost of Discipleship from Celebration South Florida a few weeks ago. I was just struck by how radical Christianity is supposed to be (or should that be how radical Christianity MUST be). It’s sometimes frightening to think about how little my faith can affect my day to day life sometimes. Your thoughts are certainly encouraging to me. It’s hard work keeping the main thing the main thing, but the rewards certainly outweigh the effort.

    Thanks for your blog, you provoke me to thinking about God, which is something that I can never do too much.

    Joe Anderson
    Orlando, FL

  2. jon September 19, 2006 at 12:08 PM #

    Great post. Perhaps a question for some future post….how do we keep the gospel central both in individual song choices and in the diet of our singing? What are some obstacles to this for the church song leader?

  3. Mark Tubbs September 19, 2006 at 7:00 PM #

    Touche, Bob. While emailing a co-worker today who had enquired about my life, I began to type ‘God is kind’ in reference to how God has blessed me in the past months. I deleted those three words in a moment of sinful foolishness, recalled your Monday Devotion and re-inserted the words. What makes me all the more foolish is that my co-worker is a Christian, albeit one of a different stripe. Thanks, Bob, for keeping me sharp, and for being unceasingly gospel-centered.

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