Thanks to sites like You Tube, you can watch your favorite musical groups perform their best songs. It’s a neat way to travel back in time and relive the music you grew up to. I was doing this not too long ago. The group I was listening to had been popular many, many years ago and I was going from one song of theirs to another, trapped in time. But I noticed I wasn’t the only one in a time warp—the clothes the band members were wearing absolutely reeked of another time. And I couldn’t help but think how ridiculous they looked.
I wondered why I didn’t have any memory of the group’s dress one way or the other in the time when they were popular. Why did their clothes look so pathetic now? The answer has to do with different perspectives; specifically the “inside-looking-out” perspective versus the “outside-looking-in” perspective. At the time of the group’s popularity, I was part of the same culture they were—we were all on the inside looking out. The way we dressed looked right to us (okay, we even thought it was cool). But now that I’m on the outside looking in, it just looks silly. This phenomenon is universally experienced whenever anyone out of school for more than a decade looks at their yearbook picture and asks themselves, How could I have worn that? Or they think, I can’t believe I wore my hair in that style. You were on the inside then, you’re on the outside now and that makes all the difference!
I don’t suppose there’s any real remedy for this. We just have to accept that part of the human condition is to be trapped to a large degree by whatever time/culture we’re part of. And when our great-great-great grandchildren look at our pictures a century from now, our hair styles, our clothes, and probably even the picture itself will all look dated and out of place. This is true for everything we touch.
Except the cross.
The cross never goes out of style, does it? It doesn’t need to be embellished with today’s fashions or trends—in fact, it’s better when it’s left alone. The cross looked good when we came to Christ and it looks good as we continue our journey of faith. In fact, the farther along we get, the better it looks.
That’s where the cross becomes timeless. People who view the cross from an outside-looking-in perspective may think the cross irrelevant, a mere myth, or simply foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18). But once we see the cross for what it is, the power and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24), it becomes the centerpiece of not only our lives, but of human history. Once we view it from the inside-looking-out perspective, it takes on a transcendence that was there all along, but required the eye of faith to see it.
I’ll keep watching my favorite groups on You Tube and flinch at yearbook pictures of days gone by. I’ll be content to acknowledge the weakness and frailty of the human condition because the cross means that none of that is the final word. The cross means the last word for Christians is the big word—hope.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19-20)