Crosses can be found everywhere. The sit atop the spires and steeples of churches. The emblazon sweatshirts along with “in your face” messages. The dangle from the ears of starlets and bedeck the cheekbones of athletes. The adorn cemeteries and are embedded in stained glass windows. They have been set on fire and used as symbols of hatred. The can be found in the grasp of gentle people quietly praying in quiet places.
Although the Cross is the symbol of Christianity, you don’t have to be a Christian to display one. In fact, one of the sad realities in the cross in many ways has been reduced to jewelry separated from its meaning. It has been used to caricature the message of the faith. And even some Christians who wear a cross don’t have lives that reflect its true meaning.
Yet the Cross represents a reality with which the world must come to grips. Humankind in all of its best efforts is still brought to the foot of the Cross, placing it ultimate hopes on the love and the mercy of God. In its original usage, the cross was an instrument of humiliation and torture. It was intended to magnify death in a powerful image of helplessness and shame. As the Romans used a cross, it was the ultimate symbol of bondage. No Roman citizen was to be subjected to this punishment, but all other peoples had their lives ended, their rebellion crushed, their transgressions punished by the horrible death on a cross.
Yet God chose the Cross for an entirely different kind of symbol. He determined that the Cross would be the means of our ultimate liberation from bondage–not bondage to a political oppressor or our human poverty, but the bondage of the sin that separated us from a life-changing relationship with the God Who created us in His image, designed to live in the freedom of His love, and to never be separated from Him for any reason or circumstance.
Instead of an instrument of death and a symbol of shame–a means to finally find the wholeness and peace that our heart was designed and never stops desiring. Not a simple change of circumstance or station–but a total life transformation.
The Romans intended the Cross to be the end of the line.
God intended the Cross to be the beginning of a journey to new life.