A testing question

  • Sumo

Here’s a question that won’t wear out with repeated use. It will not grow weaker with age. It will not lose its depth after many visits. It will not be less beautiful after repeated viewing.

A Christian can ask this question to measure almost anything. It is:

What does it do to the cross of Christ?

“If I took that statement seriously, what does it do to the cross of Christ?” “If we believe the Christian life includes X, what does it do to the cross of Christ?” “If I view church/work/family from this perspective, what does it do to the cross of Christ?”

OK, so those are all quite general. Here’s some more meat onto this bare-bones idea.

A lady on a plane, who seemed to consider herself connected to Christianity, told me that she didn’t like the idea of God judging people. I should have asked – but didn’t – “What does that do to the cross of Christ?” Answer: It makes the cross incoherent. If Jesus was not taking God’s judgement, the cross achieved nothing. When the cross is reduced to mere example of love there’s no point in making it necessary (as the New Testament insists) because God shows his love in many other ways.

Someone else complains about raising an old wound and unreconciled relationships. It’s unChristian. What does that complaint do to the cross? Answer: It pushes aside the reconciliation that God so decisively won by Jesus’ blood, and chooses instead to promote the appearance of order over brotherly love.

We could apply this question all over life. Here are some of the many areas.

  • In questions of theology.
    (Wondering if is Jesus is the only way to God the Father. Considering the resurrection as physical or just symbolic. Describing the nature of saving faith.)
  • In matters of Christian living.
    (Can you be a solo Christian, and deliberately ignore church? Do I need to repent of and name every single sin? Can a believer be possessed by evil spirits? I think it’s OK to leave my wife and kids.)
  • In arranging life together.
    (Who can legitimately be part of church? Or who can help lead ministries? Are there areas in which we can co-operate with people of different beliefs?)

It’s useful, I believe, because it’s a weapon with live ammunition. People sometimes raise the question of ‘God at work’ – a good weapon, but not loaded. Unless God’s work is well-defined, perceiving God’s hand relies on vague feeling or unjustified guesses. When we turn to the heart of God’s work (à la 1 Corinthians 2:2), we have a sure way to seek that which is consistent with God’s self-revelation in the world. The cross is certainly a live truth!

Are there particular places you can see this question being useful? I’d love to know them! Please share with us in the comments section below.