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*Message Title:*  The Cross:  God’s Answer to Our Deepest Needs
*Theme~/Series:*  A Love Like No Other
*Text: *Colossians 2:6-23      
!!! Pericope:  Colossians 2:6-23 (New International Version)
*Freedom from Human Regulations through Life with Christ *
 6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature,[a] not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,[b] God made you[c] alive with Christ.
He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.[d]
16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
18Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize.
Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.
19He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
20Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21"Do not handle!
Do not taste!
Do not touch!"? 22These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.
Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Colossians 2:11 Or the flesh
Colossians 2:13 Or your flesh
Colossians 2:13 Some manuscripts us
Colossians 2:15 Or them in him
*  I.
/A popular monk in the Middle Ages announces that in the cathedral that evening, he would preach a sermon on the love of God.
The people gathered and stood in silence waiting for the service while the sunlight streamed through the beautiful windows.
When he last glint of color had faded from the windows, the old monk took a candle from the altar.
Walking to the life-size figure of Christ on the cross, he held the light beneath the wounds of the feet, then his hands, then his side.
Still without a word, he let the light shine on the thorn-crowned brow./
/ /
/That was his sermon.
The people stood in silence and wept.
They knew they were at the center of mystery beyond their knowing that they were looking at the love of God, the image of the invisible God, giving himself for us—a love so deep, so inclusive, so expansive, so powerful, so complete that thought of mind could not comprehend nor measure it, or words express it./
The Cross has always been controversial.
When the movie The Passion of the Christ was being prepared for release in Italy/ the review board gave it a "G" rating.
Some parents objected, saying the movie was too violent for children to watch.
But the reaction of Italian author Riccardo Zucconi, quoted in USA Today, said more about theology than parenting.
He refused to allow his children to see the film, in his words, "because I want them to have this idea of the spirituality of Christ, not this idea of debauchery.
The soul of Jesus is important, not his body."/
/The writer preferred to have his son watch a 30-year-old film, The Gospel According to Matthew.
"That film is very deep," he said, "and you don't see a drop of blood."
/Zucconi planned to see the movie himself, however, "I think sometimes I will shut my eyes to preserve myself from all this blood," he said./
/This reaction says much about the contemporary response to the Crucifixion: People want the spirit of Jesus, without the Incarnation; the death without the pain; the sacrifice without the blood.
But without the body, the pain, and the blood, the Crucifixion is meaningless./
/Sacrifice cannot be sanitized.
Sacrifice has always been bloody.
That's the point./
*/  Eric Reed, Wheaton, Illinois; source: USA Today (4-6-04)/*
·   The cross, like real life, is messy.
·   It doesn’t fit well within our logic or the neat and tidy designs of religion.
·   I don’t know about you but my life has been a mess at times, especially when I tried to live it on my own without Christ.
·   I need a messy solution to the mess I made of my life.
·   The cross is often misunderstood and misinterpreted.
The pop queen and sometimes-spiritual philosopher Madonna used the cross as part of her show,
/ /
/In her [Madonna’s] 2006 Confessions world tour she staged a mock-crucifixion—singing "Live to Tell" while wearing a crown of thorns and strapped to a mirrored cross./
/Not surprisingly, many religious groups protested the routine as an offense to their faith.
Madonna answered her critics through a statement released following the tour's final show in Japan./
/"There seems to be many misinterpretations about my appearance on the cross, and I wanted to explain it myself once and for all.
It is no different than a person wearing a cross or 'taking up the cross,' as it says in the Bible.
My performance is neither anti-Christian, sacrilegious, or blasphemous.
Rather, it is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another and to see the world as a unified whole."/
/She later added, "I believe in my heart that, if Jesus were alive today, he would be doing the same thing."/
Hugh Poland, Kingwood, Texas; source: Houston Chronicle (9-21-06)
·         The crucifixion wasn’t done for theatrical effect.
·         It involved *real nails; real thorns; real blood* and it accomplished a *real purpose*.
The Apostle Paul, who wrote the book of Colossians, from which we took our text this morning, focused on the cross in all of his work.
He offers insight into to the power and the purpose of the cross.
This morning I want to look at four needs that lie at the core of our identity and how the Jesus through the cross has met those needs.
These needs are common to all people although we may not describe them the same way.
These needs are:
·         forgiveness
·         love
·         belonging
·         something bigger than ourselves to strive for
* II.
**The Need To Receive Forgiveness*
The first need the cross satisfies is our need for forgiveness.
This is our most absolute need.
I argue we need this more than food or water.
I say this because the lack of food and water can kill me now, the lack of forgiveness can kill me forever!
·         The need for forgiveness is rooted in an awareness of our sinfulness.
·         Some would say we don’t need forgiveness from God this is because they don’t have an awareness of their sinfulness.
One of the words translated as Sin in our English Bibles means “missing the mark”
When we miss the mark that God has set, the result is our relationship with Him is destroyed.—this
is the spiritual definition of death
In today’s text is says:
/Colossians  2: 13When you were *dead in your sins* and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,[b] God made you[c] alive with Christ.
*He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
*/*/  /*
Notice that is says we have been made alive with Christ because he forgave us all our sins.
Forgiveness removes that obstacle to our relationship with God and allows us to experience spiritual life.
I quoted Madonna earlier.
In fairness to rock stars let me read you a quote from a rock star who I think got it right.
/In the book Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assaya, the lead singer and songwriter for the rock group U2 makes an explicit confession of faith./
/"It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between grace and karma."/
/Saying that the idea of karma is central to all religions, Bono explained:/
/What you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one.
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