If you were o visit each of our CLC congregations across the country, you would note many differences. There are obvious differences in the size and architecture of church buildings. In some places you might worship in a converted garage with 20 other people; in another location there might be 200 worshipers in a brand new sanctuary. You would experience a variety of service orders and hear several different Bible translations read.
Yet, I’m confident that you would feel at home no matter where you might be, because one thng would be the same whether you were at a CLC church in Alaska, California, Florida, or wherever. You could be sure that the worship held there would be centered around the cross of Christ. That is what defines us and makes us who we are. We are people of the cross.
There is nothing new in that. St. Paul reminded the Corinthians that they too were people of the cross. He wrote: “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1-2).
Paul could certainly have preached a different message. He could have wowed his audience with the latest Greek philosophy or his own views on life. The people of Corinth loved debating and discussing new ideas. It has been said that every street corner in Corinth had its own resident wise man who would expound on the meaning of life.
Our Only Real Hope
So why make such a big deal of preaching the cross? Why do we gather here as people of the cross? Why do we stress it to the point where the three-year-old in Sunday School knows the safest answer to any question is: “Jesus died on the cross for my sins”? Put simply: It is our only real hope!
Do you want peace and security in life? Do you want the certainty that your time here is not just a cruel joke, a waste? You won’t find those things in manmade philosophy. Only the message of the cross has life-creating power. At the cross we first of all learn the truth about ourselves. We are not good people, or at least better people than some. We are sinners who are accountable to God and deserving of condemnation.
But there at the cross something else stands out even more than our sin — and that is God’s incomparable love. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
Jesus Christ took on our identity. The Word became flesh. He was determined to take our place, even to the point of dying for our crimes. The Father turned His back on His Son, not because of any sin in Jesus, but because of the world’s sin which was laid on Him. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Because of the cross, we don’t have to carry a heavy load of guilt around with us. We don’t have to go through life looking back over our shoulders in constant dread of God’s justice crashing down on us. Instead, we have been set free from sin to praise and serve our living Savior.
And isn’t that why we are here? Thank God for making us people of the cross! Amen.
— Pastor Michael Eichstadt
Another Convention devotion (condensed) by the Chaplain, Pastor Michael Eichstadt, under the theme: “Who Are We?”