Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Is The Attack On The Cross A Good Thing?

Dear Friends,

Stephen Colbert once famously said, “What do liberal Democrats and vampires have in common? They both scream when they see the cross!” It’s the most powerful symbol in the world. It’s been the most recognized, the most revered, the most feared and the most hated symbol for the past 2,000 years of world history. It’s the cross. And it’s under attack.

A Kentucky librarian is fired for wearing a cross because the library dress code prohibits the wearing of “potentially offensive items.” A nurse is disciplined and reassigned for refusing to stop wearing the cross she had worn at that hospital for thirty years. A student worker is fired from a university bookstore for wearing a cross. A television anchorwoman is fired for the same reason. A man and his family were ordered to leave a restaurant because he was wearing a cross that “violated its dress code.” A Target store fires a woman employee because she refused to remove or hide a Christian cross on a necklace that was visible to customers. In New York, atheists sue to prevent the display of steel beams that had been welded into the shape of a cross by the horrific fires during the World Trade Center terrorist attack. The U.S. Army removes all crosses from chapels after the Pentagon determines that the cross is offensive and violates military regulations.

Around the world, the communist military in China demolishes all crosses that are visible on churches. In Muslim countries, those who wear a cross are beaten and often killed. In Great Britain, the government has said that Christians have no right to wear a cross at work, and in our own country, the American Atheists organization has the support from progressive liberals to prohibit all crosses that are in view of the public. 

And Martin Luther prophetically said that “when the cross is abolished, and the rage of tyrants and heretics ceases on the one side, and all things are in peace, this is a sure token that the pure doctrine of God’s Word is taken away.” I agree with the German Reformer and that’s why I’m personally okay with this attack on the cross, the recent attacks on Bible-believing churches and the attacks on our Christian faith. This recent onslaught of hatred by atheists, progressive liberals, educators, and too many politicians is the evidence that we are being faithful to Scripture. As Luther said, when the rage of those who attack Christians subsides, and they leave us alone, that’s the red flag warning that we have compromised the Gospel message and are not being true to the offense of the cross.

“When the cross is abolished, and the rage of tyrants and heretics ceases on the one side, and all things are in peace, this is a sure token that the pure doctrine of God’s Word is taken away.”

The increasingly frequent and hate-filled attacks on the cross testify to the power and meaning of the cross. In the ancient church, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the crosses’ historical meaning as an instrument of torture and death was inverted to epitomize glorification and eternal life. Symbols trigger the memory of what they represent and the cross arouses in our hearts the reality of God incarnate in the Son. The cross is prayer without words. The cross is a symbol of our obedience on our spiritual journey to follow Christ. The very image of the cross invites the grace of God. Just a glimpse of the cross focuses our thoughts on God and takes us into His presence. 

The cross is not just a horizontal piece of material fastened to a vertical piece. In my Episcopal church, we genuflected before the cross. The cross represents something holy. Something sacred. It represents the triune God. And, as such, the cross is the ultimate expression of our faith. When we hang that cross on our living room wall, over our bed or wear a small cross around our neck, we signify to others that we live our life under the seal of the cross.

The image of the cross also transports us to the end of human history. In Matthew 24, the disciples ask Jesus to tell them what will be the sign of Him coming and of the end of the age. And Jesus tells them that the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven. Matthew 24:30 The early church believed that the “sign” Jesus spoke of would be the symbol of the cross. 

It is in the cross that the body of Christ becomes united and spiritually solidified. It’s magnificent and mounted high on the wall of the persecuted Coptic church in Egypt. In Nigeria, two crude sticks are nailed together on the wall of a church that’s made entirely from salvaged shipping crates. A gold-gilded Crucifix in a Catholic Cathedral and a plain, simple wooden cross at the front of a little country Baptist church. Different denominations, different doctrine, conflicting traditions but reaching across those theological divides to stand united under the cross of the risen Christ. That’s 2.18 billion Christians today whose hearts have been knitted together as one by the cross of Jesus Christ. That’s the power of the cross. Amen?

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