“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you but Christ and Him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 2:2
Filling His Need
There is almost never a day that goes by where I am not reminded to keep “Christ and Him crucified” at the center of my life. A few winters ago on a cold snowy day in Chicago, I was unexpectedly reminded of this necessity. Bundled in my coat, I walked past a warm little bookstore. I glanced in the window to see a homeless man who had gone inside to get out of the cold. There he sat—in a nice big reading chair— with a half-starved look on his face. Unlike the many other homeless people that were out on the street, begging for money and trying to get something to eat, this man had a different idea for filling his need. He had taken a rather large picture book of food, and gazed as he slowly leafed through the pages. As I watched the man’s face, it was as if he was sitting at a large banquet table. Every flip of the page served him the next course of his meal. Finally, when he arrived at the dessert section, he grinned from ear to ear, and I continued to walk with a smile.
Satisfied with Less
This foolish man made me think of all the times in my life that I have allowed myself to be satisfied with something far less than the real thing. Too many times, I meddle in the meaningless effects of this world, when I could be experiencing the Almighty. Even more, it may not be sin that distracts me, but the mere “everyday-ness” of Christianity. My desire to relate to people more deeply, or preach more adequately, or do ministry more relevantly, are all noble causes, yet they pale in comparison to knowing Christ and Him crucified.
Doing vs Knowing
When the Cross is off-center in my life, I have willingly allowed something else to take its place. Whether it is my finances, my relationships, or even this week’s sermon, which are all so urgent and all “good things,” they begin to knock out the important, Christ. How easy it is to let my ministry take the place of Christ, while I go on doing things for God rather than knowing Him more closely. When this happens, the aching slowly grows and I find myself homesick for the Cross due to my busyness, shallowness, and sin. The risk for any of us might be seeking as our reward the satisfaction of creating “the perfect retreat” more than redemption. Or it might be being more enthralled with our church program than God’s glory.
The Gospel at the Center
With deep urgency, we must strive to return the gospel to its central place in our lives. The Cross, and all its beauty, is not only salvation on the day of our regeneration, but should also be what we take up daily. At the Cross, our hearts overflow with the deepest satisfaction, and by it we are given strength to help those whom God places around us. When a teen in an abusive situation comes crying for help, we will already be in position to present them at the feet of Jesus. Or when a man in our church openly admits to us his attraction to the same sex, we will be able to help him tap right in to the bondagebreaking power of the blood of Christ. With the Cross as the nucleus of our lives, we will be ready for any situation.
Loving Christ Over Ministry
For each of us, there is a choice: will we wander this world aimlessly, sit hopelessly, or run fervently to God? Great men have gone before us, such as Paul, St. Francis, Luther, Whitfield, Spurgeon, and, today, Graham, Piper, McDowell and Giglio. All of these have known God greatly, but the Cross was no more accessible to them than it is to us. What made these men great is that they acted upon an inward longing. We too can discover that true life is found with the Cross at our center, and in turn we can be used greatly by God. Making Christ the midpoint of our lives requires sacrifice and diligence.
There will be much excavation that needs to be done in order to clear a path for deeper perseverance. God’s Word tells us that we are to “throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).” Yet it is not by our own strength we run, for it goes on to say that we are to, “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).” It is prideful yet easy for us to think that in order to fully know God, we need to run in our own strength. Rather, we need to fall to our knees with the same brokenness that we knew on the day of our salvation, and remember the great gracious gift that God has given us. By remembering where we have come from, by surveying the Cross, and rejoicing in our hope eternal, we will discover this sweet salvation once again, and the grace He bestows for everyday life.
Homesick for the Cross
How easy it is to let my ministry take the place of Christ, while I go on doing things for God rather than knowing Him more closely. When this happens, the aching slowly grows and I find myself homesick for the Cross due to my busyness, shallowness, and sin. So then how do we live? I trust that all of us understand the basic disciplines of grace to live a Cross-centered life that models Christ. This means that it will affect the way that we conduct ourselves, for we are instructed to imitate God (Ephesians 5:1), all the while living a life worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1:27). Our chief end is to know Christ. Any knowledge of small groups, great leadership, or secrets to church ministry, are tasteless compared to knowing Him. No praise of man or adoration of students will ever satisfy us as much as the love of Christ.
How much more glory will God receive, if at the end of our ministry it is said of us, “He (or she) resolved to know nothing but Christ and Him Crucified?” Let’s live at the foot of the Cross! “O, taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).