Clinging to that Old Rugged Cross

By Patrick Hawthorne


If you have read many of my posts, you will notice that I write, in a large portion, to the Church – the body of Jesus Christ – as a whole.  I don’t mean to step on toes; honestly, I don’t.  Yet, when my thoughts lead me in a certain direction, I tend to follow through with a, “Damn the torpedo’s, full speed ahead” type attitude.  My prayer, as I write this, is that my words are received with the good intent for which they are meant.

There is a hymn that has been around for many a year.  It is a beloved hymn, a cherished hymn, a hymn that pulls on the heart strings of singers and listeners alike.  It is “The Old Rugged Cross.”  I have tried to like this hymn but as one who tends to walk more along the lines of a literal thinker, I have – as far back as I can remember – had issue with one portion of the lyrics, “I will cling to the old rugged cross.”

Do we need to think about the cross?  Yes.  Do we need to meditate on the cross?  Yes.  Do we need to remember the cross?  Absolutely.  To those I agree.  However, do we need to cling to the cross?  Not if your desire is to progress in your faith!  Why?  Because Jesus is no longer on the cross.  “We were crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20) but were also raised up together with Him (Eph 2:6).

Yet, at the foot of the cross is where many of the Body of Christ remain.  They never grow beyond the foundation of the salvation message.  They never learn that if they want to grow in their walk with the Lord, there must come a time when they let go of the Old Rugged Cross in order to pick up their cross and walk in the victory of the resurrection of Jesus (Matt 16:24-26).

The Old Rugged Cross is surely our foundation.  Without a firm grasp on the knowledge and the power of the cross and on the shed blood of Jesus, we are on shaky ground.  However, the foundation alone offers no protection from the storms that are sure to come.  For that, solid Biblical instruction must be built upon the foundation as directed by the Holy Spirit.  For then, we will be in a position to learn the lessons of denying ungodliness and worldly lusts so that we may live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age (Titus 2:11-12).  Be blessed.


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Posted in Christian, teaching, writing
9 comments on “Clinging to that Old Rugged Cross
  1. Wally Fry says:

    You know back about 10 years ago when I actually heard this and listened to it for my first time I realised it bothered me a bit yet I could not articulate why. Patrick this post will be to good use. When we have our singings down at the assisted living place we always have a short Word. We also almost always sing this song too. Thanks for the word my friend


  2. prior.. says:

    well I also heard that the theology of this song is “off” and I enjoyed hearing your pondering take here –

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said, Patrick! Recently I heard a really good sermon on clingy clingers and what we are supposed to be clinging onto. Clinging is like what a kid does when they don’t want you to put them down. They get stuck on you, like glue, and you can’t untangle yourself.

    Romans 12:9 tells us, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”

    In those storms, and those dark nights of the soul,we really have to put our eyes on what is good and cling to Philippians, 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

    Sometimes we also need to remember, Christ is not on that cross anymore, He is now seated in victory at the right hand of the Father.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. SLIMJIM says:

    Gotta think more about this one but a good food for thought; I do agree we need to grow beyond the foundation and also that the Gospel is more than just the Cross too with the Resurrection and Ascension, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember being a member of a church where the pastor preached nothing but the salvation message. The church was small and growing old because no new life was being brought in. I lasted in that church about a year before I had to get out. I was starving for more of the Word.

      I have nothing against the salvation message. However, the pastor was not properly feeding the sheep by telling them how to live a saved life according to the Word. He never could get beyond the foot of the cross. As a result, that church died when he died.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SLIMJIM says:

        Ah gotcha I see more of what you are talking about when you described that scenario. As a Gospel preacher I believe we also preach on the IMPLICATIONS of the Gospel and how it touches on everything else but there’s other areas of the Word of God as well theologically. I am picturing analogous situations in my life to what you are describing and I now feel what you are talking about!

        Liked by 1 person

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