Branding. It’s a big deal. Experts will diligently work to brand you or your organization according to “the way you want folks to perceive you.” Hopefully, the way you want folks to perceive you is the way in which you should be perceived.
Ours is a society that likes its symbols and logos. Athletic gear with the logos of college and pro sports teams is popular and expensive. The United States has several symbols: “Old Glory,” “Uncle Sam,” and the American eagle. Through the years even the cross of Jesus Christ has become a popular and familiar icon. The cross has long been a popular symbol for the Christian community, used to decorate church facilities and Christian paraphernalia. However, in recent times the cross has become trendy and fashionable. What was once viewed as the most cruel and shameful of all punishments, meant to brutally punish offenders and vividly intimidate others, is now merely a fashion accessory for most people. Many see the cross as just another religious trinket, no different from the Star of David or a Buddha statue or the Islamic crescent. Do people have any idea what the cross represents?
In his book Cries from the Cross pastor and writer Erwin Lutzer writes about meeting a “thirty-something” lady during a flight. He noticed she was wearing a cross on her necklace so he commented,
“We really do have a wonderful Savior don’t we?” The lady rolled her eyes, and said that she “understood” the cross differently than he did. Then she showed him two other religious symbols that were dangling behind her cross. “I’m in social work.” She explained. “The people I work with find God in different ways. Christianity is just one way to the divine.”
Obviously, this lady misunderstood the cross, because it can never be united with other religions, philosophies, or human ideas. It stands alone. The message of the cross is offensive and despised by a culture that is tolerant of everything except the truth. The truth is that we are sinners, unable to reconcile ourselves to God. Our sin pays wages: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23; running up a debt only the shed blood of Christ on the cross can cover.
- “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” – Matthew 26:28
- “[Jesus Christ] was once offered to bear the sins of many” – Hebrews 9:28
- “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” – 1 Timothy 2:5-6.
The central message of Christianity is the cross. The cross is the point to which all roads in the past converge and roads to the future diverge. The Old Testament writers prophesied about the cross and the New Testament Christians proclaimed the cross! The cross is evidence of God’s holiness and unfathomable love for us while also revealing our uncleanness. The message of the cross is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:17).
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” 1 Peter 1:19-21 (cf. Isaiah 53:10)
The cross is so much more than a symbol. It is how the perfect, sinless Son of God was offered up, completing the foreordained plan of redemption. Praise God for His amazing grace and love, seen most clearly on the cross and the finished work accomplished by Jesus Christ on the cross.