The Blog: Pastor Parsley's Personal Blog Pastor Rod Parsley

Who Do We Think We Are?

9/30/2013 2:00:00 PM — It’s a schoolyard bully’s taunt to anyone who dares to stand up to him or her – “Who do you think you are?” Unfortunately, far too often it carries over into the conference rooms of office buildings, spoken by former schoolyard bullies. But it’s something every believer should say into the mirror on a regular basis.

Who are we, really? Each of us fulfills many roles, to be sure. But no matter what else we are, first we are sinners whom Jesus Christ redeemed via His horrifying, excruciating death on Calvary’s cross. Jesus’s death was motivated by a love for us so deep that it’s impossible to appreciate it outside of a relationship with Him. And yet, the symbol of His sacrifice and His love for us – the cross – has been marginalized and trivialized not only by the culture, but also within the Church.

It’s true that musicians and athletes treat the cross merely as jewelry and body art. But can we blame them, when so many of us in the pews on Sunday morning do the same? It’s true of our houses of worship, and as a result it’s true of our lives as well. As I write in my new book, The Cross: One Man…One Tree…One Friday:

Yes, the cross is disappearing from our cityscapes and church platforms. But in a broader, profounder and more troubling sense, we’ve been voluntarily removing it from our hearts and minds. Silently, steadily, stealthily – without fanfare or debate – we have slipped the cross out of our preaching, from our singing and from our daily living. As a result, the cross is fading from our collective Christian consciousness.

To which I say: “Not on my watch!” I believe The Cross is a response to a divine mandate different from any other message He has given me to take to the Church and the culture.

My eyes are open. I realize the cross has a unique power to offend, and that our Twitterized culture has created a host of ordinary folks unfazed by the notion of speaking truth, or what they believe to be truth, to power.

I truly enjoy interacting with believers from around the world on social media. It’s encouraging and humbling to know that my work for the Gospel influences Christians around the world. But along with that come the half-cocked harangues of self-appointed doctrinal police who admonish me to “practice what you preach.” By which they mean, I should preach what they practice, whether it conforms to the Word of God or not. Even within the Church, there is a movement that seeks to downgrade what Jesus accomplished at Calvary. No wonder the lost seem confused about what Christianity is all about. When Christian churches can’t unite around that which God has plainly declared, it’s understandable that some choose to sleep in on Sunday morning rather than try to sort it all out themselves.

But lately, most of that has to do with the subject matter. The cross has a unique power to offend when it’s taken seriously, rather than as a mere adornment. It was true nearly a decade ago of Mel Gibson’s brilliant film The Passion of the Christ, which dared to portray the crucifixion as something you and I would not want to experience. I have no reason to expect it will be any different with the release of this book. But the naysayers are not the reason I wrote The Cross.

There will always be what our students at Harvest Preparatory School and Valor Christian College call “haters.” I’ve had critics since I began my public ministry more than 35 years ago. They don’t bother me any more, and they certainly don’t motivate me. But others will, because of this book and because I and others dare to talk about the cross to a new generation of believers, will have a fresh and life-changing encounter there.

Anyone who dares to come to the foot of the cross will experience grace, mercy, healing and salvation that the world simply cannot offer. As Paul said in his letter to the church at Ephesus, identifying ourselves with Christ means we are chosen by God and adopted as His children:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.”
- Ephesians 1:3-8, ESV

It is at the cross, and only there, that we find our true identities.
- September 30, 2013