The cross; what does it mean to you? What does it stand for? Have you ever thought about that? I mean, have you truly ever thought about the significance of the cross?
In today’s culture the cross seems to have become just another symbol like any other symbol and this is a sad thing. Everywhere you look, people are wearing a cross around their neck; tattooing a cross on their body, and yet they have no idea what it even stands for. Instead, it has become a fashion symbol to many today.
It really bugs me to see someone wearing a cross while at the same time they are listening to profanity-laced music, or are engaged in an activity that is totally contrary to the very cross that they are wearing. I have heard more than one person say that the cross they were wearing was to show that they believe in God. Well according to James chapter 2, that is a good thing; however, even the demons believe that also and they have enough sense to tremble.
The thing that I think is even worse is that so many churches have stepped away from having a cross on them or in them as if it might chase someone away. It seems that they would rather look “industrial” or “modern” rather than appearing “religious.” Well the cross isn’t “religious,” it is an absolute reality.
The cross is central to Christianity and without it there is no forgiveness of sins because it was on a cross that our Lord and Savior died. The cross is a symbol of suffering; it is a symbol of death; it is a symbol of the giving up of your rights; it is a symbol of sacrifice and it always entails loss and every Christian will suffer sacrifice and loss if they truly desire to follow Jesus Christ. But you see, this isn’t a popular thing to tell people because who truly wants to suffer loss or make sacrifices today? People would rather just go right along expecting an easy life without suffering or loss.
Early Christians knew exactly what a cross meant and what it represented. There was no doubt in their mind; it wasn’t something to be treated lightheartedly. It was the most tortuous death that anyone could ever go through. Yet today, it is downplayed drastically.
For the true Christian, the cross is a very important part of their walk with Christ; as a matter of fact, in order for you to be a true Christian, a true disciple of Jesus Christ, it is something that must be embraced. Jesus instructed us in Luke chapter 9 verses 23-24, “And He was saying to them all, if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”
You see, we are instructed to daily give up our own desires, wants and wishes and to willingly endure suffering for His sake. Many people boast that they would die for Christ when there is threat of death to them; but what about living for Christ? That is the hard part; and if you would dare to live for Him, then it is required that you die to yourself.
What we have to realize is that once a person got put upon a cross, they lost all of their rights. The hard reality also is that if we would ever get on the cross, we would lose all of our rights as well. That is what the cross should mean to a true Christian. The cross should be a reminder that we are dependent upon Christ; that we have given up our rights and surrendered them to Him; that we are dying to ourselves so that we might live for Him. Is this true in your own life? Is that what the cross means to you?
The Rev. James Cole is pastor of Sovereign Grace Community Church in Grovetown.