Hope Fools: The Crosses We Carry
April 06, 2014 | Josh Graves
Passage: 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
That Old Rugged Cross
2 Cor. 4:7-10
Podcast available via the website or iTunes
William Willimon tells the story of a funeral he attended when he was serving a small congregation in rural Georgia. One of his members' relatives died, so Willimon and his wife attended the funeral held in an off-brand, country Baptist church. He writes: "I had never seen anything like it. The preacher began to preach. He shouted; he flailed his arms. 'It's too late for Joe. He's dead. But it ain't too late for you. People drop dead every day. Why wait? Now is the day for decision. Give your life to Jesus.'"
Willimon goes on to suggest that this was the worst thing he had ever seen. He fumed and fussed at his wife Patsy, complaining that the preacher had done the worst possible thing for a grieving family--manipulating them with guilt and shame. Patsy agreed. But then she said: "Of course the worst part of it all is that what he said is true."
Somehow in death, we are most alive to life.
Even thought it doesn't always feel like it.
That's a poignant if not humorous story. But, it's also piercing.
We've all been to funerals in which the stories, joking, sarcasm, etc. ceases and things get really really focused. Truth emerges. And for a second, you don't care about fashion or ESPN or titles or bank account statements or gossip. You only care about Jesus, Jesus' kingdom and the people in your life.
Then the moment passes. That's how the cross works. We know it's central. We know it's our identity. And then we forget.
The kingdom without a cross is soft, do-gooder religion. At the same time, the cross without a kingdom is a fear-based, empty religion, devoid of any power or imagination.
It's that kind of focus that brings life to God's full hope.