by: Marty Paluch
Recently, someone shared with me how they used to think the cross at the corner of Lutheran Church Road was ‘ostentatious’. Imagine that! Someone thinks something we do at Salem is over the top.
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul writes how the cross was a stumbling block for the Jews, the established ‘Church’, if you will. Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t the sign they were looking for to prove the Messiah would do what He came to do. To the Jews, the Messiah was about strength, and freedom from the oppression of the Romans. They wouldn’t acknowledge the real oppressor was their sin. The established religious order couldn’t see Jesus came to fight a battle much more critical than any struggle the Jews had ever faced or would face with an earthly army. When the Messiah didn’t look like they wanted Him to look, well, they said, ‘He’s not my Messiah’.
Our ‘Ebenezer’ cross became a stumbling block for our friend because they had difficulty seeing beyond the appearance of the cross to appreciate the message of the cross. Thankfully, as they joined with us in our work together and in the life of our Salem family, their perception shifted to appreciate the cross for a symbol of how the word of God taught at Salem comes from a place of conviction and vulnerability and a desire to reflect the excellence of God in everything we do.
Keeping the message of the cross central to our personal lives and our work as a congregation is essential if Jesus is to be real to all we meet. Empowered by God’s Spirit, we speak of the beauty of the message of the cross.
God’s people live within His forgiveness, loving and caring and sharing the gospel of redemption offered to all mankind through God’s mercy and grace in Jesus. The stumbling blocks of symbols and appearances become stepping stones to new lives filled with promise and hope.
“Jews demand signs and Greeks search for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
1 Corinthians 1: 22-24