Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Haters of the Cross

Dear Friends,

Last Friday, the blonde woman I hang out with and I took her mom to Solvang for her mom’s birthday. There are a handful of stores we always visit in that quaint little Danish town and one of our favorites is the one with all the cuckoo clocks and jewelry. We’ve made a few purchases from this store over the years and knew that the original owners had recently sold it. This time we stopped in front of the store, looked at the window display, looked back at each other, and were stunned. (see photo above) It was a statue of a cross with a demonic-looking, dragon-like creature clinging to it. Talons digging into the cross. Tail wrapped around it. Black wings enfolding it as if territorially proclaiming possession over it. Eyes flashing. The artist’s depiction of evil triumphing and claiming victory over the cross of Christ. The blonde woman is an introvert who will often walk a mile out of her way to avoid a confrontation. But she walked into the store and politely told the salesperson she would like to see the owner. She was extraordinarily nice, polite, firm, confident and articulate. She told the new owner how much we loved his store but that the statue in the window would be offensive and upsetting to Christians who love the cross and what it represents. The owner told her that he was sorry if it did but that he didn’t see anything wrong with the statue. In fact, it soon became clear that the atheist owner and his partner liked the symbolism of evil prevailing over the cross of Christ. 

Those of you who know me, know I don’t hide my faith. I wear a cross that my father gave me many decades ago. It’s made from iron horseshoe nails and large enough that people can’t miss it. It’s inspired many wonderful conversations about faith but lately it’s triggered hatred. We entered a Tuesday Morning store and were cheerfully greeted by the 20-something transgender clerk. She had a woman’s voice but her outward appearance was a male. When we were ready to check out, I found the clerk stocking shelves and let her know we were ready. She politely apologized for keeping us waiting but as she turned and looked at me, her face hardened when she saw my cross and she glared at me. We were polite to her and she was rude, insulting and sarcastic to us during the checkout process. The people of the cross are the people she hates. 

I used to shop at Trader Joe’s in Granada Hills. But there were times that the Millennial Generation clerks were warm, friendly and helpful and times that they were openly hostile. I puzzled about this until I noticed that sometimes it was the same clerk that treated me nicely one time and rudely the next, and I realized that my treatment at Trader Joe’s depended on if my cross was visible or if a jacket was covering it up. A millennial friend of mine, and former NHFC member, told me that nearly all people in his generation “hate Christians.” I definitely saw that at Trader Joe’s. The cross that symbolized my Christian faith was offensive.

But before I get too upset about this, I need to  remember that nothing’s changed from 2,000 years ago. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 That word translated as foolish is the Greek word “moria”- a strong word meaning that something is “worthy of scorn.” The Gospel message then and now is scorned and hated by those unbelievers who are “headed for destruction” as the NLT translates it. But to you and me, the message of the cross is the good news of the saving power of God. 

I wear my iron cross not to flaunt my faith to others but to remind me that there is nothing more important to me personally than the message of the cross. Someone at church told me that they would never have a Christian bumper sticker because, the way they drove, they didn’t want anyone to know that they were a Christian! But that’s why I wear a cross. It bangs into my chest when I walk reminding me that I need to not just believe like a Christian but to behave like a Christian. And then, when my words or attitude to others are unchristlike, the cross convicts me and brings me into instant repentance.

Franklin Graham recently said that Christians in the United States are not far from seeing a high level of violent persecution because of their faith. I pray that’s not true, but it is becoming more and more frequent that Christians have lost jobs, experienced harassment and even death threats on social media for no other reason than being a follower of Jesus Christ. 

The culture and politics of progressive liberalism teach that it is socially acceptable to hate and marginalize Christians and as the media-fed progressive hysteria begins to build, Christians have fearfully pried the ICHTHYS (fish symbol) off the SUV and put their cross back in the jewelry box. We are kowtowing to progressive liberalism by hiding our Christian symbols and denying our faith. Jesus said, “Everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:33

I won’t receive heavenly “brownie points” for wearing a cross, but if the reason for not wearing one is that I’m ashamed to do so, then I am in trouble. “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.Mark 8:38  And so...that’s why I wear a cross.  

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The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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