Cross Confusion

Lenten Blog ImageRead Galatians 6:14
(This is from an older blog of mine…)

Maybe you heard the story. In the year 300 and something, the Roman emperor Constantine, a “kind of” convert to Christ over the course of his life, changed Christianity by making it legal and official. He is the first to marry state and religion. In the opinion of some, religion has suffered ever since. There are different accounts and opinions of him and his faith. The most famous part of his conversion involved the assurance he felt in the visual image of the cross. He believed that God told him in a dream or vision that he would win a particular battle he was facing if his army bore this cross (with a matching motto) on their shields. They did. They won. Thus began confusion about the cross. We don’t have to pass judgment on this event either way. Was God in it or not? The point is that since this battle the visual of the cross has had its own power in people’s eyes. Sometimes it is totally removed from the gospel. In an exorcism movie the priest holds it up to the demon to do spiritual battle. People wear crosses around their necks or have them tattooed to their bodies or hung on the walls of their homes. Many do this to garner blessings and protection. Churches better have visual crosses inside and outside of them or their fidelity will be in question. This visual cross, however, is not the cross of Christ. No priest would fare well holding it up in the air at an exorcism. God’s power is not in jewelry or symbols. If we think of the cross we wear, hold, hang on our walls, or install on top of our church buildings as more than a meaningful decoration, we can really confuse ourselves. When we speak about getting back to the cross, we are not saying put more visual crosses everywhere. We’re saying that the one cross – that brutal instrument of public execution – is the place where death dies and life is redeemed for those who trust in Christ’s death on it as payment for their sins.

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