OK, here’s one from left field for you.
Growing up, our church sang out of hymn books. One of my favorite hymns is old #141 … “The Old Rugged Cross”.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down:
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.
It’s hard for me to sing or even hear this song without getting a little teary-eyed. Our society has focused a lot of energy on the symbolism of the cross. There are crosses hanging on the walls of our church building, our homes, our t-shirts, around our necks, from our ears … tattoos on our arms, our tombstones. I would dare say there are as many “unbelievers” wearing crosses as there are believers, maybe more. So what does it mean?
I’m sure for a lot of folks, they just display the cross because it’s the “Christian” or “good” thing to do. But for the true “Believer” there is some very real significance to the cross. It’s a symbol of the sacrifice made by Jesus. God’s son willingly stepped into time and space. He took upon himself the limitations of being human, and taking upon himself our sin. He submitted to the most cruel form of execution of that time. Basically He paid the debt I owed for my sin, yours too. Yup, that was a big deal. A huge deal!
Here’s the weird thing. What if Jesus came today to die for our sin? We don’t execute people on crosses any more. Depends on the state laws but it might be firing squad, hanging, lethal injection, electric chair. Would we be celebrating the “method” of his sacrifice? Who would be wearing an electric chair necklace? Church building steeples topped with an injection syringe? Strange, right?
A few years ago I was doing a class project for a college sculpture class (Ok, many years ago). I did a wire sculpture of Jesus with a plaster overlay. I started with the thought of a traditional crucifix. The further I went into the project, I began thinking about the way we (our culture) had over-emphasized the cross. I decided to emphasize what I felt was important. I simply left the cross off. I called it “The Sacrificed Lamb”.
My challenge to you? When you see a cross, remember the sacrifice. There’s no power or importance to the cross itself, any more that if it had been an electric chair. The “Big Deal” is the fact that Jesus took my guilt, and gave me His right-ness. I can’t think of a bigger deal than that.