Amy Carmichael is one of the most well known and revered missionaries of all time. she literally gave her entire life following her heavenly Prince all the way to India, where she poured out her life to stop the child prostitution in the local Hindu temples. She is often mentioned and often spoken well of, and looked up to by many leaders in the moder Christian movement, like Leslie Ludy and Elisabeth Elliot. But the odd thing is that during her time as a missionary, though her institution had many supportive friends, it also had enemies-among other missionaries.
You see, Amy was unethical-unorthodox in the way she directed her ministry. She had no nominal Christians participate, even when she was very short staffed for the huge task God had given to her. There were plenty of nominal Christians in her area, for the gospel had reached there hundreds of years before her time. Most other missionaries gladly took the assistance of these Christians, but not Amy. She held on, even when she was scorned and ridiculed. The missionaries who opposed her even tried to remove her from India! But she persevered, insisting that the helpers she wanted were the ones who knew the cry of a true Christian's heart: the cross is the attraction.
Nowadays, we stand up and applaud for her, smiling and saying that she did the right thing-but would re react the same way now?
Imagine the pastor of a huge megachurch planning for a missions trip. Even though he has over 200 volunteers, he selects only 10, even though the job clearly requires many more people. When his judgement is questioned, imagine that he says this: "I only want those for whom the cross is the attraction."
We all know what would happen-there would be a riot. People would be upset, offended, and many would leave the church in scorn. Whether or not the pastor keeps his commitment we can only know in our imaginations.
But let's imagine; if the pastor's judgement was right, what were the other 190 people coming for?
We know the answers. Popularity. Bragging rights. Friends, girl/boy friends, or crushes going. Maybe to get your parents off your back. Or maybe it's actually good things! Looking for a better spiritual life. Trying to become more happy. Those are both worthy goals.
But what are we promised?
The way Christendom is sold today, we are promised many things. Happiness, security, peace-many even go as far as to say wealth and status too. But we are not promised the last two, and the first three we are only promised on the spiritual level.
People seem to expect (and encourage the expectation) that your life will just straighten out. Maybe get a little easier. Which is very true on some level. You will have intense peace and no anxiety when you are surrendered to him. You will be joyful and fulfilled, and you will be secure in His arms. You also can have all those things while you are in a prison cell, or being torn down by the media, co-workers, or even your friends and family.
The point is, we have nothing to vie for in Christianity except the cross. Yes, we are going to be happy and peaceful, yes, we will have a loving relationship with Christ! But it's more than that!
The cross is more than something we wear around our necks or talk about all the time. The cross-as in, Christ, His death for us, His forgiveness, and His ability to free us from sin is the ONLY attraction, the ONLY thing that we are truly promised! There is no verse in the Bible that says "You will always have a great life and nothing wrong will happen." It says that everything on the physical side of things could not be so great. You could be starving or in prison for Christ! You could be so many things...and if you just look for happiness it's not going to cut it. You need Christ-you need the cross!
When we sin, happiness can't take it away. We won't have security or peace as long as it is on our shoulders. The only thing that can remove that is the cross of Jesus Christ, and I promise you that when you let that weight be taken off your shoulders by Jesus, that's when the added benefits come in.
So look to the cross. Remember, the attraction to Christianity is not anything but the cross.
The cross is the attraction. -Amy Carmichael