At a young age growing up in Salt Lake City, I had a mini-revelation: Christians find their identity in a cross. You see, my Christian friends wore crosses, but not my Mormon friends. A Christian church has a cross on its steeple, but a Mormon ward house a mere spire. The contrast was stark. As I later learned, this was no accident: the cross not only separates Christians from Mormons and from every other religion and philosophy, but even from the present world itself. Listen to what the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 6:14: “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Obviously, Paul is not merely reflecting upon the symbol of the cross as an ornament, but upon the horrible, shameful, disgraceful death that our Lord Jesus Christ died on our behalf. Indeed, the day Jesus died we died, our sin died, our guilt died, and our destiny bound to a world condemned to destruction died as well.
This means that when we come to Christ, our identity is grounded in the cross. The most important thing about us is not our birthday, not our parentage, not our citizenship, not our appearance, not our career, not our spouse, not our bank account, not our house, nor our hobbies. Rather, of first importance is that on the cross we have been condemned as sinners and yet declared saints in Christ. Paul says in Romans 6:3-4: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” We have been cut off and severed from this old creation which is dying off, to be buried with Christ in baptism. And because we died in him, we have been raised together with him: with pardon for our sins and eternal life.
But although we have been cut off from the world in the Christ’s cross, in Christ’s Body we have been brought together! The Church is a supernatural community of people who stand together transparently under the cross, a cross which declares us to be at once both sinners and saints. After all, the sin which before kept us apart as human beings has been put to death; as Paul says in Ephesians 2:14-16, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility … that he might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” If we have been reconciled to God in the cross, what good reason could there possibly be for our sin to divide us from each other?
So who are you? Where does your identity lie? Are you at peace with the world, or have you made peace with God through the blood of Christ on the cross? Make no mistake: to be found in Christ, and to belong in body and soul to the one who shed his blood for you, is the greatest identity you could have.
This short article was published in the Resurrection Times: Wednesday Edition, July 14, 2010. Its purpose was to whet the whistle of its readers for the up-coming sermon on the Doctrine of the Cross of Christ.