There is an older gentleman that lives just a few short blocks from our house that my lovely wife has been witnessing to for almost two years now, a man who is in his mid-eighties. It is a very interesting story of how this acquaintance began, but today and in this letter to you I will not impart the telling of that tale, perhaps another day. Let me begin with just a few small facts though, if you will allow me to, this older man in his youth worked quite a bit in a hobby that now he enjoys only sporadically, the leisurely pastime of woodworking, specifically wood crafting in his garage behind his small house. I have had the opportunity to see the inside of his small shop, and though all of the tools are dated and well worn, all seem to be in good working order, and at the time I was there, woodchips and sawdust were on the floor, a tribute to his desire to continue in his craft as long as he is safely and physically able to.
As I mentioned, the witnessing began, and continues on to this day, and so as one might expect, or at least hope for, the fruit of my wonderful wife’s efforts are bearing growth for this man’s soul, even if just in a small way, and that growth came a few weeks ago when the man, Bill, we shall call him here, presented my wife with a wooden cross he had crafted with his well worn equipment and hands that are apt to the task. This wooden cross, which is about the size of a clock one might hang upon there wall, has that exact device at the center of the cross, a clock, one with praying hands in color as one might see in a stained-glass window.
What I would like you to contemplate here are two subjects actually, why this man gave a cross to my loving wife, and why you, for those of you that do, have a cross either on your person or perhaps in your house or vehicle. I believe the answer to the first of these may be quite simple, Bill has seen my wife as the rest of the unseen world sees all Christians, as religious individuals, people who are spiritual, perhaps even devout, but mainly people who are just like them, except they go to church. I do not believe this elderly man sees my wife as one is who ‘faking’ it, for her own personal demeaner infers nothing of this sort of person in any area of her life, and from the conversations with Bill that she has informed of, her desire, as I knew it to be, is for this man to come to know Christ as his Savior, and the cause is imperative because of Bills age.
So the question remains, and perhaps this man is the only one who will truly know the answer, why did Bill take the time to make, and then give to my lovely, caring wife a cross, why not just a plain old clock, or any other item that he could quite easily design and build for her as thanks for her time and concern for him, why a wooden cross, why the symbol, the insignia, if you will, of the Son of Man, known by nearly every single human being on this planet. It is a question that this man can answer only within himself, and to the Lord our God when he meets Him, no matter the circumstances and place of that meeting.
The word ‘cross’ has its first mention in the New Testament, nowhere does the word appear in the Old Testament, though in the Book of Deuteronomy 21:22+23 we are told that “a man hanged on a tree is cursed,” and in Galatians 3:13 we are told “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree.” This tree is the cross of Christ, and it is by Him that all who will believe on Him will not face the wrath of God but will be hidden in Christ. (Col.3:3) Herein is the subject line that I would like to address in this letter to you, the cross of Christ and its meaning, at least in a small way, in our lives today, are we reverencing the cross or the one who hung upon it.
As is the case with the man we called ‘Bill,’ to a degree, this is a very personal question we must ponder, and the conclusion that we will reach will be just as personal as the answer, are we basing the ideology of the cross on a factual or emotional basis, how many are looking at the cross thinking they are looking at our Savior. If you have one, why, why do you have a cross around your neck on a chain, why is there one hanging somewhere in your house, why is there a sign, as it were, a remembrance of the Lamb of God in many, if not all of our churches.
Some will say, at least of the ones that have the cross around their neck that is simply for the sake of memory, a recollection of what He did, what was accomplished on that cross for us, it holds no value beyond the hearts desire to assist in its endeavors to reminisce and remember the deed done for all that only He could accomplish. Others wear it in the sense of a talisman, an item that will ward off evil, think in the terms of the old vampire movies where the cross was held up as the only way to force the evil to see and respond, flee if you will, from the good, as if the cross within itself holds some form of power, an item made by man imbued somehow with spiritual power.
As I stated earlier, for the most part the cross is an emotion based symbol, far too many have taken it beyond the remembrance of the purpose it served, the purpose Christ alone could fulfill on it, it has become for some the same as repeated incantations within certain religious organizations, as performing the Lords supper each time they meet, forgetting the importance of it and seeing it a route routine, as what some call “holy water,” a symbol of divine power, a worn amulet or wall hanging that will protect them from evil. This is not the intention of the cross.
Nearly every church on this planet has a cross somewhere in it, either a very large one hanging behind the pulpit for all to see, or a small one in a visible place, and for some religious organizations, the image, the sculpture of their ideology of Christ still hangs upon it, for others ropes or cloths will adorn it at certain times of the year, the cross has become to many as the image of the brazen serpent that Moses was commanded to make in the desert when the children of Israel were bitten by fiery serpents after they had spoken against God and Moses. (Num. 21:4-9) The cross of Christ for many, needs to be done to as the brazen serpent was in 2nd Kings 18:4, destroyed, for as the children of Israel did then, burning incense unto it, worshipping the thing made with hands instead of the one who made all, the cross has become to many individuals somewhat akin to an item of magical powers. This is one of the oldest deceiving tricks of Satan that there is, anything and everything that he can use to take our eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ and place their view elsewhere he will use, even the cross of Christ. How many times have you heard, or perhaps even sung words to a hymn about never taking your eyes off the cross. My friends, He is not on that cross anymore, in fact the tomb, not even death could hold Him, would you rather have the cross of Christ to hold on to, to admire and look at, or the Holy Spirit of the Living God within you.
Now, while I am not going to suggest this next thought to you, for all of my letters are for the sole purpose of glorifying God, encouraging and, when led individually by the Holy Spirit, to convict you in whatever way He leads, but think if you will on this particular thought, is it wrong to throw a cross in the garbage. Do you need that symbol around your neck for comfort, remembrance, so that it can be used to initiate a conversation with those you meet. Is the small cross in your home there for protection from evil, to ward off the demonic forces of darkness, or is it there so you will know what time it is. Is the large cross in your church spurring images of a risen Savior, or just as a decoration that some barely even notice anymore, except for around the prescribed holidays when it is adorned with festive decorations. If you think that cross around your neck is going to keep Satan from tempting you and protect you from his demonic horde, you are sadly mistaken, it is imbued with no special powers, it is an image made by man only, as all crosses are.
If you wear one or have one in your home as a remembrance, do you look it more than you read your Bible, do you dust it off frequently and make sure it is visible to all who come into your house, but never speak of the one who hung on it and what He did for them there, the price that He paid for all of us, or is it just another piece of art, a family photo or an heirloom of times past in your life. As I stated, this is an extremely personal subject, and I will neither infer or deduce any action you should take on this matter, it is your decision completely, the choice, as is with all things that the Lord brings into our lives, is completely up to you.
Know this though, our Lord is not on that cross anymore, He no longer resides in a tomb, He is risen, and sits now at the right hand of the Father, cursed for only a brief moment of time for all of us, but now has a Name that is above all other names. It is the Lamb of God that we are to be looking at all times, not the cross that He died upon, much less the ones we see in our lives on a regular basis. If you want to look at a cross, look at the one that you are to be carrying, the burden that he has blessed you with. Carry that cross well, and with great humility and thanks, and you won’t need any other cross, take His yoke instead.