17 Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.
4 1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.
The letter to the Philippians is a good one! Paul is definitely focused on the end goal. He has a lot of accomplishments he could list from the past, but his focus is forward, centered on Christ.
What I love about our Prince of Peace, in our worship space and throughout the building, is that the cross is prominent. In the sanctuary, it is our focus. It centers us. It reminds us who we are and whose we are. Our focused is on the cross, and the One who bore the cross for you and for me, Jesus the Christ.
Where we worship, the cross is central and prominent. I believe that EVERYTHING in that space needs to point to Jesus Christ. The music we sing points to Jesus Christ. The words we share point to Jesus Christ. The meal we share point to (and include in with and under) Jesus Christ. If you ever what can be included in a worship space, the question to ask is: “Does this point to Jesus Christ?”
At a National Youth Gathering several years ago, we saw a short video of Davey and Goliath - remember them?
The boy, Davey, and his dog, Goliath. Davey was staring in the mirror, looking for that cross, and wondering what the pastor was talking about when he said we all have the mark of the cross on our forehead. Davey couldn’t see it! He thought he had been tricked.
Goliath’s only response was, “I don’t know about that, Davey. But I do know that I am Goliath, and I belong to Davey. And Davey loves me very much.” Then, Davey got it - “I am Davey. I belong to God. God loves me very much.” That Goliath is one smart dog!
The truth is this - you are a child of God. You belong to God. God claims you as his own. You are of GREAT value. The cross on your forehead is God’s seal - never to be taken away.
The cross changes everything. Death is no longer the final word, no - now it is life. Despair is no longer the final word, no - now it is hope. Brokenness and bondage are no longer the final word, no - now it is forgiveness.
The cross, seen as a symbol for death now is a symbol for victory over death. For Jesus wins the battle.
The cross doesn’t just change the past, it changes our present, and shapes our future. For the cross is that which ultimately defines us.
The things we have done and left undone in the past are behind us. God forgives you. Look to the cross.
Today is God’s gift to you, for you are a baptized child of God. That is why it’s called the present! Look to the cross.
Tomorrow is in God’s hands, for Jesus goes ahead of us, in death and to new life. Look to the cross.
Let us strain forward for what lies ahead. Let’s do it together. Look to the cross.
Let us pray: Thank you, Loving Father, for the gift of the cross. May we turn to You and live! We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.