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Icon: The Empowering Invitation of the Cross

It Won’t Work

Preached by

There are two distinct paths that one can walk in life – the wide road of self-interest and worldly gain, or the narrow road of sacrifice and service. Most follow the former without hesitation, striving for victory, status and possessions.

But there is an alternative way, a way so counterintuitive that it has confounded people for millennia. It is the way of the cross – a path that inverts our natural instinct of “looking out for number one” in favor of considering others above oneself.

Today we will explore this mysterious way and its profound implications for how we live, taught most clearly through the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. We will see how it provides an “otherworldly” solution to the unfulfilling quests of this world, if only we have the courage to follow it.

  • Jesus was tempted by the devil to take the authority and splendor of all the world’s kingdoms, if he would just bow down and worship the devil. But Jesus refused, saying he did not come to acquire and improve on worldly kingdoms.
  • The way of Jesus and the way of the cross is very different from the way of worldly kingdoms, which is about winning, losing, power, and violence. The way of Jesus requires a completely different way of thinking and living.
  • We are tempted every day to abandon the way of Jesus and opt for the world’s way of striving, competing, and winning. But the way of Jesus is better for us and for others.
  • The apostle Paul understood the difference between the world’s way and Jesus’ way very clearly, having persecuted Christians himself before becoming one. He spread the message of the cross as a completely different way of living.
  • The cross represents the backwardness and “otherness” of Jesus’ kingdom. Many streams of Christianity today resist the way of the cross as too weak.
  • To make this practical: When you have a disagreement this week, ask yourself what it would look like to choose to lose in that situation, to defer and let the other person win. This reflects the way of Jesus and the way of the cross.

The way of the cross goes against our every natural instinct. It requires choosing power over powerlessness, strength over weakness, and victory over defeat. Yet it is the only way that can truly fulfill our deepest longings for significance, community and meaning. This week, meditate on how you can live out this way – not just in occasional acts of service, but as a daily pattern of life. When relational conflicts arise, consider choosing to lose rather than insisting on your own way. Observe how this can transform environments poisoned by strife and bring peace.

If lived consistently, the way of the cross has the power to change our world from the inside out. It can take our personal lives and relationships from good to great. My hope and prayer is that we each find the courage to walk this difficult path, for in doing so we walk with Christ.


Deuteronomy 6:13

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