On Crosses, Criminals, and Christ

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 I recently read a little diatribe based on Galatians 6:14. It got me to pondering…and researching…and the more I thought about it, the more worked up I became. So I thought I would give my two cents about this verse, put in the proper context. Galatians 6:14 says, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” The author of the post that I read talks about how the cross is not an idol and it is an image (emphasis mine) of the two great commandments to “love God” and “love others”. The author ends with this, “No, I don’t make an idol of the cross or Christ, but I will boast of it all the more!”

And I say, if you are boasting in anything except Yahveh, you have created an idol. You see, it’s not the cross that has the power, but The ONE who hung on the cross. The criminals that were being executed with Jesus were also hanging on crosses. The cross is powerless. The Sacrificial Lamb of God that hung on the cross is the Savior…not the cross he was hung on.

When looking at Galatians 6:11-15, we see Paul telling the Galatians that they do not need to be circumcised to be saved, but to boast in the death of Jesus for salvation, and to crucify their worldly desires and live for Him. That is a far cry from using this verse to justify idolatry.

The bible is full of commands not to worship idols or create graven images, the most obvious being in Exodus 20:3-4. Then, in Leviticus 26:1, Numbers 33:52, Deuteronomy 7:25, 1 Kings 14:9, and on and on the list goes in the “Old Testament”. But for those that don’t think the old testament is for today and that the law has been done away with, here are some new testament verses…1 Corinthians 10:14, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” 1 John 5:21, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

Maybe the confusion lies in the definition of idolatry or graven image. Well, let’s look at them: idolatry—the religious worship of idols; idols—an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed; graven image—a carved idol or representation of a god used as an object of worship. Is the cross an idol? It certainly sounds like it to me, especially if we are boasting in it rather than Him.

I know idolatry goes way beyond the cross in this generation. In my own life, God has been showing me the “high places” that need to be torn down. You know, things like self-reliance, love of material things, time-wasters, and on and on my own list goes. But as I grow in the likeness of Yeshua, and work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, those places, those idols are coming down one at a time. What freedom and joy there is in following my Rock, my Redeemer, my All in All.

Lead me to Christ, not to the cross.

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