A Muslim view of the Cross...
A couple years ago I was in London and went to Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park to listen. (Speaker's Corner is the place where, for generations, men have taken a milk crate or stepladder and preached to anyone listening.)
On a Sunday afternoon a year earlier, I'd spent several hours there. That day, the subjects were overwhelmingly religious. A Messianic Jew proclaimed Jesus' Messianic fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies to the most hateful audience of Jews imaginable. I admired his courage and wondered whether the bobbies (London policemen) standing guard might not arrest him for inciting a riot. Afterwards I thanked him for his boldness. A year later we renewed our acquaintance.
This time, though, there was a pronounced change. It had all gone over to politics--specifically, hatred for the United States and anger over our war in Iraq. At some point I spoke up and was immediately surrounded by a small group of Muslims spewing venom: "You're an American, aren't you?"
"Yes," I responded, "but more importantly, I'm a Christian--and that comes far before my citizenship."
"So then you worship a god who couldn't keep himself from being murdered on a cross!" they announced gleefully. As they saw it, their victory was complete. The simple fact of our Lord's death on the Cross showed me for a fool.
Such an earthly and logical view of Jesus' death caught me off guard. I'd spent my life in a Christianized country where the cross is just one more piece of jewelry. Madonna just staged the opening concert of her comeback tour and this time her central drama involves mounting and hanging on a large crucifix. Here we have the cross as stage prop.
"You think God coming down to earth and being crucified on a cross is a sign of weakness?" I asked the Muslims. "Then you worship strength and power. And if power's what it's all about, the United States is your god--not mine, but yours."
This morning I was reminded of this exchange while reading 1Corinthians 1:
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.... For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:22-24)
Do you know the power of the Cross, of Jesus Christ crucified? No matter whom we witness to, this is our subject. And it is as scandalous today as it was back in the time of the Apostle Paul--listen carefully to my Muslim friends. Yet you and I have God's promise that this stupidity is His Wisdom; that scorned by Muslims as well as Jews and Greeks, Christ's death is man's only hope. Every message, every sermon, every talk with our relatives and neighbors must return to Christ crucified. God's wisdom is proven by the fact that this Cross remains the greatest scandal the world has ever seen.