For many people the Christian life begins by grasping the cross of Christ through repentance and faith. The cross is the starting point, like a harbour in a storm, and then the Christian sets sail. With the cross behind them, they learn the rules of the sea, what to do and what not to do, all sorts of religious rituals and traditions. They go where the wind blows, as “the spirit” mystically moves them. As they move on the cross shrinks and finally disappears over the horizon.
Many ministers, vicars and priests will say, “I once had a simple, evangelical faith but I have moved on to richer things.” That moving on is actually towards something more bereft, removed from Christ, based on bare rituals, traditions and rules or mystical spiritual experience. When this happens, congregations suffer. If church leaders lose sight of the cross then what hope do their congregations have? People are either dragged unwillingly into a chain gang where life is about those rules and rituals or they drift along like junkies looking for a mystical spiritual fix. I need to grow in my understanding of the cross and then teach and preach about it faithfully.
The Christian journey is not one away from the cross but toward it. The rules of the sea and the movement of the wind of the Spirit should be directed toward the cross. At the beginning of the journey the cross is a speck on the horizon, we barely understand it or know much about what Christ has done for us. So the rituals, traditions and rules of the church and the work of the Spirit should drive us towards the cross so that it grows in vision as we get closer to it.
Colossians 1:21-23 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.