|He doesn't deserve the hatred, we don't deserve the love.|
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the Cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” - Philippians 3:18, 19.
Why do men hate the cross? Why do so many hate the greatest symbol, the greatest expression of love? The greatest miracle known to man is the fact that a loving and merciful Christ, the very Son of God, descended to this earth to sacrifice himself for those who hate him. You would think millions of people would be clamoring to adore the Christ who died upon the cross and made salvation and eternal life possible for them, but instead, many hate the cross and the Christ who hung there.
What is the cross? It is not just two pieces of wood connected. We see crosses made of stones, of concrete, of gold hung around the necks of millions. These are but symbols of an actual event. We certainly don’t worship these symbols. But they are precious to us. They are precious because our Christ did literally and humanly die upon a wooden cross, nailed there by Roman soldiers, in our stead, to purchase atonement for our sins. “…the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) As it is written, “He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)
Those who would belittle the atonement of the Son of God make themselves to be enemies of the cross. When we say to Him who laid down his life for the sheep that there are many others ways to achieve this salvation we belittle his sacrifice and become enemies of the cross.
Those who love the cross do so because “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16) to die upon it “so that whosoever believes will not perish but have everlasting life.” He who would argue with this message so clearly laid out in God’s love letter to the lost makes himself an enemy of the cross.
Those who would live for themselves rather than for Christ, they who would dedicate themselves to fulfilling the passions of their own lust and the indulgences of their own appetites become enemies of the cross. They who would dedicate their lives to the accumulation of wealth, to the acquirement of fame, to the enjoyment of pleasure alone may become enemies of the cross.
We who are lovers of the cross have a total realization of the sacrifice Christ made, of the totality of our sins forgiven, of the magnificence of eternal life purchased. We cannot be anything but totally and unabashedly committed to Christ. We dare not make our lives about us, it must be all about Him and in Him and for Him and to Him. We adore this symbol because of the reality it represents.
Why are so many intolerant of the Christian religion? The genuine among us are a harmless and loving and kind people.
Why do men hate the cross? Is it because they think themselves well and in no need of a physician? Is it because they deny their sin, and the disease of their heart? What man who is well wants to take medicine? Who wants open heart surgery when one thinks all is well in his heart?
Why do we who are Christians get so disturbed when we meet up with enemies of the cross? Why do we expect all the world should get along with us? The world despised the holiest man who ever lived and yet we think the world should love us. Why does the world despise Christ? The cross leaves no neutral ground, people love it or they hate it.
Haters despise the cross because it represents the holiest thing this side of heaven? Because the One to whom the pierced hands belongs, the One to whom the crown of thorns belongs cries out, “Why have you crucified me? Why have you forsaken me? Why will you not accept the gift, purchased at such a great price?” The enemies of this cross hate it because they cannot endure the guilt of rejecting and refusing the expression of such love.
They express their hatred when they choose sin over righteousness, when they choose the world’s harlot rather than heaven’s Savior. They willfully and daily choose Barrabas rather than the Christ and in so doing they become enemies of the cross and haters of the Lamb of God.
We who love the cross must decide how we will react to its enemies. It is our distinguishing trait as Christians to put away militancy, and anger and hatred. We are instructed by the One who died on this cross to “overcome evil with good.” We are to smother the world’s hatred with Christ’s love.
Paul said, “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears (with weeping), many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” Why weeping? Because we want no one to hear the indescribably terrible and awful words of Christ; “Depart from me, I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23) We don’t hate our enemies. We love them and we pray for them and we desire they would know and experience the love of Christ and taste of his eternal salvation just as we do.
We want the enemies of the cross of Christ to know the grace of God. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1) The cross is only a symbol. You can tear down the symbol but you can never destroy the reality. The cross is what makes us free. And we all know that there is a great price that must be paid for freedom.
This country contains millions of memorials to those who died in foreign lands, who shed their blood to purchase our freedom. The cross is our memorial to a Savior who purchased our eternal freedom at so great a price. We will never forget, we will always remember the sacrifice made for our liberties and freedom. We will love those who are enemies to the cross. We will weep for those who hate our Savior. But let it be known far and wide, we will stand firm in our commitment to defend the symbols of our faith. We will not be passive and apathetic while the rights of our fellow Christians are being trampled under feet.
We are concerned about the damage the enemies of the cross might do to our children and grandchildren. We don’t want them to forget. We have no desire that they worship symbols like idolaters, but we do desire these symbols remain so that our children will always remember the sacrifice made for their freedom, for their salvation.
There is a vine that grows rampantly here in the south. It was introduced by the Japanese as far back as 1876 in Philadephia. But it became prolific when a man named Charles Pleas planted the vine to hide his garbage cans in Chipley, Florida. Kudzu can grow up to 18 inches a day and it covers millions of acres of ground in the back country of Alabama and Georgia. We know that when those who would destroy our liberties win one victory, their zeal spreads like kudzu and our liberties will be smothered out quickly and affectively by those who would be enemies of the cross.
To those who would be enemies of the cross of Christ, think not that we are ashamed of our faith, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” Paul said to the Romans. (Romans 1:16( We are determined to live our lives for our faith, to stand firm in our defense of it and to die willingly to preserve it for our children and grandchildren.
Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.