HOUSMAIL HM#061 - THE LEATHER UPHOLSTERED CROSS 15 August 2000 __________________________________________________________________________
Jesus did call us to "take up our cross" ..... didn't He?
In fact He made it a CONDITION of true discipleship! (Luke 14:27)
One of the problems of our covetous, consumer oriented, plastic money, "pay later" society, is that it is all too easy to gain possession of all the things that Jesus calls us to RENOUNCE! (Luke 14:33)
The Cross on which He died for us had splinters! The pain He endured for us was indescribably agonising! And the cross which He calls us to carry with Him, is likely to be just as uncomfortable.
But to hear it from many these days, the "Gospel" call is to a comfortable leather upholstered pew, in an air conditioned Church. (preferably with the latest model computer controlled, steam heated doorknobs for the winter!) Discomfort is out of fashion! Self denial is out altogether!
The plain unvarnished words of Jesus, have been exchanged for clever human psychology, which allows the guilty to make excuses for their sin. Many even completely reverse what Jesus said, so that the wrong things they do aren't regarded as sin any more!
Standing in a Roman arena facing the wild beasts, has been replaced by sitting in the grandstand calling for more violence on the part of the gladiators! Some Churches even install TV sets to bring the "arena" and "gladiators" right into the evening service. (For important games only of course!)
We are constantly urged to find ways to make the Gospel more "attractive", or more "relevant", or to find a new "gimmick" to attract a larger audience, in order to win more people.
We are told to beware sounding too fanatical or radical ..... lest they declare us MAD, or reject us! Just like they did Jesus, by the way! And just like He told real disciples to expect for themselves. (John 15:18-20)
I wonder how Paul would have viewed all this, if he could have seen it while he was being beaten with rods, or stoned, or adrift at sea for a night and a day? (2 Cor 11:24-27)
That is one of the great things about this new "leather upholstered cross"! Those things can't happen to people who hide in the comfort and safety of the average Western World Church pew ..... can they?
Is it possible that some of this is the sort of thing Paul had in mind when he wrote of the last days Church as "holding the form of religion but denying the power of it"? (2 Tim 3:5)
Of course, if we do find the right advertising "Gimmick", it can build BIG Churches, who take UP BIG COLLECTIONS, to pay for even BIGGER Church empires!
BUT ..... DOES IT MAKE DISCIPLES?