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Jesus Christ, the perfect son of God, spent three and a half years publicly preaching and showing perfect truth, perfect faith and perfect love. The end result was that his life and teachings so embarrassed and angered the religious leaders of his day, that they tortured him to death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8).

You will notice in this reading that Paul tells us to have the same attitude (or "mind") that Jesus had. Jesus repeatedly called on his followers to take up their own crosses to follow him (Matthew 10:38-39). This has often meant literally dying for Christ or for others as martyrs (John 15:12-13). But it is also an attitude that we should maintain daily. (Luke 9:23) Jesus died literally on a single day; but every day, from the start of his ministry, he figuratively carried a cross. He knew that everything he was doing and saying was leading eventually to his martyrdom (Matthew 20:17-19), and he wants us to know this too. (John 15:19-20)

Why does the cross (or the attitude that it represents) make people so angry? The answer is that the world is controlled by the devil. (John 14:30) The devil becomes quite angry when his subtle lies are exposed. And to the degree that we are controlled by the devil, we too will become angry at hearing the truth. (John 8:43-45)

Jesus respected religious and political leaders, but he did not need them, so long as he followed God. (Matthew 23:1-3) Nor did he fear them. (John 19:10-11) Jesus was, by this particular attitude, presenting a greater threat to the religious and secular governments than all the armies of their enemies. When you know God personally, all the systems of man, whether religious, political, or economic, lose their hold over you. (Ephesians 6:12, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

Religions divide people on the bases of rituals and sacraments ("ordinances"), but the "cross" reconciles all sincere seekers after the truth. (Ephesians 2:13-18) Paul tells us that all outward sacraments were nailed to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-16) While religion calls those outside their own ordinances "wicked", the cross brings together God's true people on the basis of their sincerity alone. Religion told us we were wicked heathens, but the cross says we are unblamable and unreproveable. (Colossians 1:21-22) Is it any wonder that this message offends religious people! When we start preaching the cross, we stop preaching religion (Galatians 5:11). But if we slip away from a personal relationship with God ourselves, we will slip back into creating a religion. (Galatians 6:12-16)

The so-called Christian church has done the same thing with baptism that the Jews did with circumcision. They have contradicted the cross of Christ by making baptism the criteria by which they judge a person's faith, love and sincerity. (1 Corinthians 1:17-18) When we reject churchy ways of justifying people, we begin to give God himself the glory he deserves as mankind's only means and hope of salvation.

To hell with all the diabolical "covering" doctrines of today's apostate church! Our only covering comes from the cross of Christ. (Philippians 3:18-19) Enemies of the cross turn to emotional experiences (their "bellies") when their rituals are threatened, because they are not willing to obey Jesus. They have no shame for their disobedience and sinfulness, because they only "mind" or obey the prince of this world. Yet for Jesus, whose whole life was one of obedience to God, his greatest pain was caused by the fact that, on the cross, he became the very thing that he hated most; he became sin... for us (Hebrews 12:2-3).

So while the apostate church uses the cross as a justification for disobedience, let us see it instead, as the ultimate symbol of obedience. And let that same mind (or attitude) be in us, to be obedient unto death.

(See also Friend or Foe?, and Keep on Planting)

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