Transitioning…

It has been one hundred and ten days since I have commented on John Stott’s book The Cross of Christ.

For all those days I have been writing every week on Chapter Five of Stott’s book Basic Christianity.

The title of Chapter Five is “The Fact and Nature of Sin” and after beginning with four posts on the nature of sin, I launched into posts on The Ten Commandments because Stott discussed each of The Ten Commandments in Chapter Five [figured I could not “gloss” over them].   Maybe by now we have covered the topic of sin [it has not been my most popular topic].

I have a long history with John Stott.  Basic Christianity was first published in 1958 and I picked up a copy in 1976.  It sat on my book shelves until the time it was needed, around the time I transitioned from a sometimes church attender and lukewarm Christian to a born again believer.

I don’t want to belabor the point, but this book was a “Godsend” [note the capital G on this expression].  I needed it.  I hungered for basic information about the adventure I was on.  No one ever told me that I could have a life centered on a faith in Jesus Christ.  No over ever told me that my mission in life could be bringing glory to God through my worship of Jesus Christ. 

Back then I just did not understand what “being a follower” meant.  I was a baby Christian.

John Stott’s little book was so helpful.

Now since I have finished Chapter Five, commenting on sin and all the commandments, it is time to return to a very different book, John Stott’s The Cross of Christ.

The Cross was first published in 1986, twenty-eight years after Basic.  Unlike Basic Christianity, it is not a book dedicated to explaining the fundamental ideas of the faith. 

I am not the same person I was after I came to Christ many years ago.  To use Christian parlance, my walk with Jesus has been steady with the ups and downs of life, but I can truly say on December 28, 2021 that my belief is strong and still growing.  I have weathered several crises and several mountaintop moments over my years as a believer and I have found that my faith and God’s providence have brought me through all those, that God has manifested Himself in my moments of despair and joy, and He has guided me to where I am today.

All praise to Father God.

But this week it is time to return to The Cross.

Recently I have spent some time reading some writers commenting on the times we are living in, some referring to them as postmodern times.  I hate to use such broad terms but “big-picture” comments on society call for big words, sweeping generalizations.  Today it seems that many people are skeptical about institutions like the government and the church [or any over-arching institution that proposes to make “sense” of this world].   Many people today reject the idea that anyone or anything can have “absolute truth.”  If people reject the notion of absolute truth, they certainly will reject The Bible and the church.  Personal feelings are highly regarded over beliefs that could cause us to share common bonds.  There is a suspicion of reason and instead of looking for “rock hard” answers, people seem happy to live in a relativistic world where we just make up the rules as we go.

These are not easy times for Christians.

In fact, some theologians [I have read] refer to these days we are in as “post-Christian.”

What does this mean?  The faith values of Jesus Christ no longer guide the vast majority of people.   People regard the values of the world or the values of the culture above the values of God.  God has lost His monopoly as a dominant factor in society.

Well, here we are.

Maybe these writers are correct.

We are here in this world and even though it may not be as “friendly” to Christianity as it once was, we are living in these times never-the-less.  I recently enjoyed comments from a pastor from Portland Oregon who felt compelled to plant a church in the Portland area [Door of Hope].  Josh White is from Portland and he knows that we are living in Post-Christian times; many regard Portland as a very forward thinking city [some refer to it as Post-Christian].  He even had a Post-Christian attitude toward the church for many years.  I was impressed as he spoke of his faith, his hardcore effort to reach out to the unchurched, his ministry to people who have been rejected without judgement and his careful walk with Christ surrounded by people who are quick to cry “foul,” you vengeful Christian!

He admitted that his church was a “work in progress” and when he admitted  how tough it was to pastor in Portland, he said something very interesting, something that struck me. 

In all the criticism he faces, in all the skepticism he encounters and in all his efforts to reach the folks who say they do not need Jesus, he has one most powerful image that he clings to, that guides him, that inspires him to never give up.

The Cross of Christ.

Not the book but the sacrifice that God made for you, for me and all the skeptics in our postmodern world.

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