Returning home from a recent trip we were traveling a stretch of highway that is very familiar to me, but I still look out my window wondering what new things may have been added as side show entertainment. A few hours into the trip we came upon a spot I always remember, the place of the giant cross. This is just one of two enormous crosses, but this one is the most memorable because of where it stands or maybe because of what stands next to it. Right under the shadow of this cross is an adult entertainment store, decorated with a large XXX sign. It always makes me wonder, which one came first-the cross or the triple X store?.
What an ironic question. Not only in physical location, but in theory. Many religious legalist will drive by and think, "how disgusting, they should have to move the store". Others offended by the cross might think, "how ridiculous, the cross should not be allowed to put guilt on the patrons of the store, it should be moved". As I drove once more past what probably stands out to most as an overgrown oxymoron, a refreshing thought filled my soul. What a perfect spot for both of these polarizing figures!
Beneath that cross stands a physical depiction of our human depravity. If you see the store's location as an outrage because of the cross being a sacred symbol you miss the entire point of the Gospel! All of us have sinned and fallen short. Not only are the smallest sins just as loathsome as the large excesses, but our righteousness is said to be as filthy rags. We could never be good enough to attain salvation, but thankfully that isn't the end of the story. Just as those crosses each sit along a busy highway, Jesus hung as a bloody sacrifice along a bustling crossroads of that day. In John 19:20 it states that many read the inscription because "the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city".
As the cross and the store were in my rear view mirror the thankfulness of my heart was overwhelming. Still today, Jesus reaches out for a relationship with us and knowing we could never attain it ourselves he died in a publicly cruel way to give us a way to Him and abundant life. No matter what the sin, they all weigh the same, we can place them at the foot of His cross because as Romans 5:8 says "But God demonstrated his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." He saw our sins, like a large XXX sign out in the open, so he showed us His love and sacrifice in the only way appropriate, in view of the entire world.
So as you travel through your day and find yourself crossing paths with other people or places you might think are below you because they display the lowest of societal sins, stop yourself, realize in that one thought you have brought yourself in need of forgiveness of your self righteousness and thank God for his unspeakable free gift of salvation. Romans 5:20b stats, "But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more". Thank you God for Grace and the Cross.
"Inspired by grace..."
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