About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Old Rugged Cross
there's one song that inevitably brings tears to my eyes, it's "The
Old Rugged Cross", especially if it's accompanied by a dobro or a
steel guitar. The song
reminds me of my dad who was a country style guitar player in the late
1940's and early 1950's. When
he gave his life to Jesus in 1956 "The Old Rugged Cross"
became one of his favourite songs. Thus
the reason for my tears.
shape of the cross has been debated among theologians for years.
Was it a small letter "t" style cross as it is known
today? Probably not.
It was most likely either an upright pole rising vertically from
the ground, or a horizontal pole stretching between the branches of two
trees. Whatever the case,
the small "t" cross has become the symbol of Jesus' atoning
death for us today, and for that reason, I think it's important.
today's Evangelical church there is a move to rid the small
"t" cross from church buildings.
The stated reason for this is to avoid offending any
non-Christian who might enter the building.
That makes no Scriptural sense.
According to the apostle Paul, the cross is offensive. (Galatians
5:11) That's just the way it
is. The offense of the cross
didn't seem to be a matter of concern for Paul, and neither should it be
find the trend to rid crosses from buildings belonging to church groups
ironic. I admit the small
"t" cross might not be what Jesus died on.
I admit that the small "t" cross was originally a pagan
symbol, dating back hundreds of years before Jesus' execution.
I also admit that the small "t" cross was probably
introduced into the church early in church history by apostate
Christians in Egypt
who were influenced by paganism. Eventually,
the small "t" cross was institutionalized in the 4th
century church to help pagans feel more comfortable in the church, which
leads me to the irony of it all. We're
now taking the cross out of
the church to avoid offending non-Christians, whereas 1700 years ago we
put the cross in the church to avoid offending non-Christians.
That sounds weird to me.
guess it's a matter of what the cross means at any given time.
Seventeen hundred plus years ago it was more of a pagan symbol
than anything else. Today it
represents the sacrifice Jesus made for you and I.
So, if you take the small "t" cross out of church
buildings because its origin is pagan, you might not have much of an
argument from me, even though the cross doesn't portray its pagan
heritage today. However, if
you take the cross out of church buildings because you don't want to
offend someone, then you will have an argument from me.
Making the non-Christian feel comfortable in the church without
ever exposing him to the reality of the cross is far from Biblical.
The church does not exist to appease the non-Christian.
We exist to confront him with his sin in order to lead him to
Jesus, who by the way, died for him on some kind of a cross.
Sooner or later, the non-Christian must come to grips with the
cross or there's no use of him entering a church building.
In the process of leading people to Jesus, someone will be
offended. That's just the
way it is.
be historically honest, the cross was repulsive to first century
Christians. It wasn't
something they wanted to adorn themselves with or hang on their walls.
No matter the shape, it was a symbol of Roman aggression; the
means by which Jesus was killed. We
feel differently today. The
small "t" cross is The Old Rugged Cross for most of us; the
place where our Lord Jesus gave His life on our behalf. For
this reason I emphatically say, "keep the cross"!
this being said, there's more to the present trend by certain so-called
Evangelicals to rid the church of a symbol to avoid an offense.
It's a satanic influenced movement to remove the reality of the
cross from Christian theology, from our preaching, from our lives, and
even from the historical record. If
Jesus didn't die on the cross; whatever shape it was makes no difference
to me; there would be no resurrection.
If there's no resurrection, there's no salvation and our faith is
nonsensical. Jesus would
have been a mere man, a teacher of morality, and, if that was so, Paul
was right. We should
"be pitied more than all men". (1 Corinthians 15:19)
Our lives as Christians would be a colossal waste of time and
the cross hang where it may. Most
of all, let's keep the reality of the cross in our theology, in our
preaching, and in our lives. Our
future hangs on the One who hung on the cross.