Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)
The cross of Christ turns the whole world upside down, and it does so by overturning our own little worlds.
For those of us who now claim Christ, there was a time when all our desires were natural. We were dead in our sins. We were following the course of this world. The spirit of disobedience was at work in us. We lived in the passions of our flesh. We were by nature “children of wrath,” like the rest of mankind, deserving the just retribution of God (Ephesians 2:1–3).
Until God himself stepped in, in his rich mercy and great love, and turned us upside down. He caused us to be born again. We began to think differently, to desire differently, to live differently, to walk the long path of true change and new life.
And at the very heart of it all stood that odious, controversial, rugged cross. Once it seemed an embarrassment; now it became our boast. Once the cross appeared foolish to our human expectations and assumptions. Then God gave us eyes to see, took out our cold, stone heart, and put a warm, beating heart of flesh in its place. He changed the calculus of our souls. And at the center of it all was the cross.
Now, through faith, this strange, unnerving instrument of torture not only made sense, but we began to cherish the cross, to count Jesus’s spilled blood as precious, and see that Christ’s self-sacrifice applied to us — that we were no mere spectators but eternal beneficiaries of the cross.
The apostle Peter in particular celebrates the preciousness of who Christ is and what he accomplished for us at the cross. Because of Christ, our faith, which joins us to him, is “more precious than gold” (1 Peter 1:7), and we cling to “his precious and very great promises” (2 Peter 1:4), becoming more like Christ and seeking to escape the corruption around and in us. We have come to see Christ himself as a chosen and precious stone (1 Peter 2:4, 6) — and not only Christ but him crucified.
We have come to see the single most unjust, horrific moment in the history of the world — the execution of God himself — as glorious. We have come to call the darkest and worst of days Good Friday. We have come to call the spilled blood of a righteous man, indeed of God himself, precious. We stand with Peter, who writes not only of Jesus’s blood but of “the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19).
We have come to own that, apart from Christ crucified, we were stuck in the futile ways of our forefathers. The righteous wrath of God hung over our heads. Our escape could not be purchased “with perishable things such as silver or gold,” but only with precious, sinless blood (1 Peter 1:18–19).
And so we have come to cherish that hill called Golgotha. With our world turned upside down, we now prize what all four Gospels call “the Place of a Skull” (Matthew 27:33; Mark 15:22; Luke 23:33; John 19:17). We treasure that tree, pressed into unrighteous service to torture and execute the only righteous man, because God has opened our eyes to his peculiar ways — ways higher, deeper, stronger, better than ours.
From Jesus’s death came our very lives. The righteous died for the unrighteous. God himself stooped not only to be among us, as one of us, but to die for us, to restore us to himself.
In Christ, we no longer cringe that our hero suffered a criminal’s death. We glory in it. We are not ashamed of the gospel, not ashamed of this cross, because here, on display for all time, is the very wisdom, power, and glory of God.
The cross, of all places, is not the poverty of our faith, but its wealth. It is our embarrassment, but our boast. We say with the apostle Paul, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). The cross has turned our world upside down — and only then did we realize we were finally rightside up.