Pastor's Message

by Pastor Nathaniel Gamble


The cross has been associated with Christianity for so long that most people assume the cross has always been the central way Christians have represented their faith to the world.  This, however, would only be partially true.  It is true that Christians put a lot of focus on the cross of Jesus Christ.  Ever since the first days of the New Testament, the cross on which Jesus Christ died has been seen by Christians as somehow providing for the forgiveness of sin and the reconciliation of humans with God and each other (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5); in some way, Christians have recognized that Jesus' cross is the primary means God uses to significantly transform and heal the brokenness, fragmentation, and rupture that all our lives experience.  Nevertheless, the cross was not the primary symbol early Christians used to convey this truth.  For the first four or five hundred years of their existence, Christians used the cross sparingly as a way to explain to others about the new, transformed life they enjoyed with Jesus Christ.  In artwork, they usually used signs of new life (like the sun, a phoenix, light, or Mediterranean vegetation); in worship, they usually prayed standing up with their arms outstretched like a cross (as a sign that Jesus had risen from the dead and was now eternally alive).  It was only after the Roman Empire outlawed crucifixion as an acceptable punishment for crime, and the last generation to witness a public crucifixion died, that Christians began to use the cross extensively and almost exclusively as a symbol for their faith.  But why did the early Christians not use the cross as a symbol for their religion, if they spoke about the cross so much?  The answer seems to come from the fact that the cross was ubiquitous: the cross was everywhere in the Roman Empire, everyone knew what crucifixion was used for, and everyone was familiar with the scandal of the cross - how utterly humiliating, agonizing, and shocking ancient Romans considered death on a cross to be.  The cross forces Christians and non-Christians alike to ask the question, "What kind of a God would choose to save the world by being humiliated and tortured to death?"  Here at the Aspen Park Seventh-day Adventist Church you will find a group of people who constantly wrestle with that question in one way or another.  We have come to see that the kind of God who would use a cross to save the world is the kind of God that loves the world enough to put it back together - even at the expense of his own honor and life.  Coming to see the cross as a demonstration of this God's love and power, the Aspen Park Adventist Church has also found it compelling to ask the follow up question: "What is it about our situation - our brokenness, shame, and death - that would require God to do something as extreme as the cross, in order to save the world?"  God is still using the cross to teach those of us at Aspen Park the answer to that question.  The Aspen Park Adventist Church warmly invites you to join us in learning more about the answer to this question.  You are welcome to join us on Saturday mornings for study and worship, as Jesus Christ continues to show us the meaning of the work he did for us on the cross and as he continually enacts that work in our lives.