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

The Church's Problem With the Cross

10/28/2013 1:15:00 PM — In doing media interviews for my new book, "The Cross: One Man…One Tree…One Friday," many Christian journalists have pointed out to me that the subject matter is something of a departure for me.

My first thought in response is that anyone who makes that statement hasn't heard me preach very much. But on the surface, I suppose it's true that my trilogy on moral issues – "Silent No More," "Culturally Incorrect" and "Living On Our Heads" – seem to come from a different place than "The Cross."

There's one important connection shared by all four books, though, and it has to do with the aberrant worldview called postmodernism.

I can understand why the unsaved world would seek to minimize the redemptive work that Jesus Christ accomplished through His sacrificial death at Calvary. Scripture tells us this will always be the case:
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
- 1 Cor. 1:18-25, ESV, emphasis added
Paul quotes Isaiah 29:14, demonstrating that mankind's default mode, a reliance on human wisdom instead of God's, is something of a recurring theme in history. By and large, Kingdom people realize that their mission fields are full of people who are trying to get by on their own strength and their own wisdom. It's part and parcel of the postmodern worldview, which holds that everyone is responsible for finding the spiritual path that best suits them.

The problem comes when Kingdom people let postmodern concepts creep into their worldview. That, in my opinion, is what produces churches without crosses and congregation members who don't fully understand or appreciate what Jesus did for them at Calvary.

That flawed mindset is reflected in our reluctance to display the cross in our homes and in our churches, and it manifests in our attitudes toward His great work of redemption, done on our behalf:
Over and over Jesus proclaimed and modeled the principle of the cross to His disciples.

"If you want to lead, you must serve," He told them. But they could not understand, so in His final hours the Crown Prince of Heaven stripped to the waist and washed their filthy feet as if he were the lowest slave in the household. "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom, He cried. But that made no sense to them, so He said, "Hide and watch"; gave away His very life; then inherited a seat at the right hand of God.

There is a cross down here. Love your neighbor. Do good to those who despise you. These principles make no sense in the context of Postmodern, rationalistic, materialistic America. They are the antitheses of Darwinian self-preservation. They cut against everything the earthly princes of Wall Street and Hollywood Boulevard and Pennsylvania Avenue hold up as truth.

There is a cross down here. But the Church has forgotten meekness and humility in an age of ostentatious pride and self-aggrandizement. We've lost sight of the truth, shouted from the top of Calvary's mountaintop by a battered, bleeding man with sign reading "King" nailed above His head . . . that service and self-sacrifice, and most of all love, are our keys to influence and victory.

Yes, there is a cross up there. Thanks be to a loving God who did not withhold His precious Son but freely gave Him up for us. But there is a cross down here, too. Jesus hung at the intersection of heaven and earth. And in a sense, so do we.
In my view the great scandal of the Church is that it has forgotten humility. An attitude of indifference to the eternal plight of the lost, a focus on self-esteem as something to obtain rather than something to keep in proper perspective, an elevation (or devaluation, I'm not quite sure) of preachers' lives to fodder for reality television series, all speak to a great sickness in the Body of Christ.

Put another way, too many of us in the Church think we don't need the cross. So we are not sufficiently reverent toward it.

There is an old saying that you should never get in a mud wrestling match with a pig, because you get all dirty and the pig likes it. It grieves me that it is necessary to say this: we are not to engage and adopt errant worldviews like postmodernism. We are to influence those afflicted with it toward a biblical worldview, which includes proper reference for the cross. And just as importantly, we are to model a biblical worldview ourselves.

To call the Church back to a proper understanding of Calvary – an understanding reflected in reverence, awe and worship – this, as much as any other reason, is why I wrote "The Cross."