Many wonder whether religion is relevant anymore. Hasn’t a scientific way of approaching things now taken the place that was formerly occupied by religions? Do we need to even consider religious beliefs relevant anymore?
Since religions and faith still powerfully shape the beliefs and cultures of our world, if we want to understand and learn about each other then religion is relevant sociologically. Something can also be relevant in a more personal way: when it is true and matters to you. When it effects your life and when it is necessary for you.
The cross of Jesus is the central event in the life of the central character of Christianity. In fact: What dominated Christ’s mind was not the living but the giving of his life. There is no Christianity without the cross. The cross is the central thesis, idea, action, and moment of Christianity. Does this event engage in any clear and relevant way with our 21st Century lives?
Maybe you hope for love. Maybe to get a different job, to get into uni, or just to pass your exams. Maybe you just want a real friend – to be valued where you are. To be seen as the best, perhaps. Sometimes we’re just struggling to find some hope to get through.
Anxiety levels are at the highest we’ve ever seen. Despite the longest period of peacetime in recent history, many people report feeling apprehensive and fearful about the future. We are now more connected to global concerns through our devices, and the continuous cycle of humanitarian crises, economic crashes, moral scandals, terrorism, extremism, war, instability, pandemics and concerns about the future that all flood into out live. Every single recent generation has been touched by the difficulty of living life when you struggle to hope that things will get better.
Hope is often held alongside what we fear. If what you fear is stronger then it’s hard to live in hope. Peter Kreeft says that, ‘The deepest hope of the human heart is heaven’. I wonder if this is because it is the only world we tend to imagine that does not include death. A good consensus of psychologists and sociologists (people like Ernest Becker) have identified death as the greatest fear of 21st Century human beings. How is the cross relevant to this need for hope and this fear?
Christ confronts the fear and the reality of death with his cross. If true, then Christ coming back from the dead is the most hopeful news that has ever been told. The cross of Christ shows us who stands behind everything and what this being thinks about us. Who are you? What is the nature of things? The cross tells us that we’re wanted. The cross tells us that we are known and loved, and that God is real. That a loving God is working through the pain of suffering. That wrongs are seen; that there is real justice and mercy.
The cross deals with the darkest fear that we will experience: death. And God offers us a rescuing relationship. The cross opens up a way for us to experience moral transformation inside. He tells us what is wrong with us and then comes to change us.
We need truth and reality. We need to know what God is like. The cross is God showing us what he’s like. It’s revelation and truth.
Christ’s cross is the answer to big questions that we face: What can we hope for? How should we live? What can we know? The cross speaks to the worst fears. It deals with our worst parts. It tells us the truth. The cross and resurrection don’t just tell us about the rescue, they also tell us about the rescuer. God promises to gently show us how we can live in true freedom. He gives us the greatest hope possible. He tells us that he loves us, and that he is with us.