The Cross and the World

The next section from Maxwell’s book is titled, The Cross and the World.  How appropriate are his comments as many times our "religion" wants to glorify the cross.  In its original setting, there was no glory in the cross, only shame.  What do we make of the phrase "glory in the cross"?  We understand that we are actually glorifying our own humiliation.  The only thing we lift up, is the fact that we are not lifting ourselves up, but humbling ourselves as we submit to the cross.  Here are a couple of paragraphs.
 
THE ROMAN ORATOR, Cicero, summarized the attitude of the ancient world to the cross when he said: "Not only let the cross be absent from the person of Roman citizens, but its very name from their thoughts, eyes and ears." Two thousand years age we find no halo of glory, no beautiful associations of history, no nobility, and no thought of heroic sacrifice attached to the cross. How cluttered up is the cross at the present time! Even the unbelieving world now says: "The Cross stands for all that is noblest in manhood". But it was not so in the beginning. It is not so today. As soon as the Cross ceases to be to us, first of all, the place of utmost shame and contempt, we make the Cross of Christ of none effect.
 
It was only in the Cross that the princes of this world could find an adequate expression of their unrelenting and envenomed hatred of the Christ of God. There, once for all, the proud world spoke its mind out loud. The Cross, then, perfectly photographs the world’s thought of Christ.  Take counsel, speak your mind, O world–what think ye of Christ? "They cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man. . . . Crucify him, crucify him." Be not deceived, my friend, that dagger is still there, albeit hidden in the world’s skirts.
 
Little wonder, then, that God says: "Love nor the world"–the whole orbit and life of the natural man–"neither the things that are in the world" (I John 2:15). This last clause is important. It is likely that many of my readers are, as a whole, unworldly. But let me ask, Are you the victim of a single worldliness? To what thing are you passionately attached? You may rightly condemn the young person’s love of the dance, the show, the theater. But are you under the spell of politics, or art, or science, or money, or ambition, or social popularity, or business power? The world is a different world to a young person than it is to the middle-aged or older person. But "the narcotic is no less deadly." Since the world slew Christ, and hates God, its whole ambition and passion and swagger, its popularity and pleasure–yea, its ten thousand enchantments all contradict the Cross and exclude "the love of the Father." The apostle does not "Love it not too much, or love it not so much"; he simply says, Love it not at all.
 
At the end of the chapter, Maxwell shares some specific ways to apply this truth.
 
The unwarranted time we can spend over some trifling hobby instead of "redeeming the time."  We call it relaxation, but there may be much worldliness in it.  The ease with which we can sit in slippered feet noting the world’s news when we might be giving the "good news" to lost men.  The prevalent lust for late night lunching and vain-glorious witticisms–cheating ourselves of the time needed for God’s fellowship in the Word and prayer next morning.  The great place we give to likes, dislikes, and personal choices.  How much we are regulated by public opinion, perhaps religious opinion, rather than scriptural principle.  How easily we are content to allow this or that thing, be it ever so innocent or lovely, to becloud the world to come.  How little we count it a privilege to suffer shame for His name.  What expectations we have of great contentment and satisfaction from certain earthly comforts.
 
Have fun and stay "crucified" – Galatians 2:20
 
-The Orange Mailman
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