The cross is a symbol often seen but little understood. Its cultural heritage, and more importantly its crowning moment have been diluted, obscured and forgotten. This current cultural symbol and former method of execution witnessed the death of the greatest man to ever live, in the most significant moment in history. The man is Jesus Christ, and this moment, redeemed the course of you and I. While the cross of Christ traveled the road to Golgotha, the cross as an Icon had a long journey before it. Two thousand years, seven great councils, two epic splits, thousands of splinter denominations, a reformation, and a crusade later, the Cross arrived in twenty ten. But in order to understand what it is now, we have to know what it was then.
Their leader publically claimed to be God. So they killed him. However, he happened to be the one man who conquered death, inspiring a cult like following. His followers lived a culture of the cross in an age when the Cross meant death. They lived so boldly and spoke so passionately; their beliefs spread across the globe and have endured millennia. They endured extreme persecution, lest we forget that the mighty Roman Empire initially saw Christianity as a cult; a “pernicious superstition.” Emperor Nero used this “pernicious superstition,” which he called Christianity, as a scapegoat for the burning of Rome in 64 A.D., promptly crucifying those following Jesus. It is essential to understand that personal association with the cross meant death, torture, and the cult of Christ. This culture understood the cross and all it’s implications. Just 70 years before Christ’s birth, the Roman Empire had suppressed the rebel revolts led by Spartacus and crucified an estimated 6,000 people along the two hundred km road between Capua and Rome. For the following four hundred years, the cross was a sign warning rebels, not a symbol worn by rock stars. Not until Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313 A.D did cultural tolerance of the Christian religion begin its long journey to social acceptance. That trajectory has placed the cross two thousand years later where we see it now:
A disrespected, displaced, disloyal icon stripped of its power and the man who made it powerful. I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times each day I see crosses tattooed on giant biceps at the gym or across the midriff of some tinny-bikini touting female at the beach. Problem is, many of these people are deluded into thinking the cross has more to do with 50 cent than Jesus. A mighty shift has occured, and:
When we use the cross for gain, slap it on every consumer good, hang it on every necklace, and begin to see it as a shape not a symbol; something’s terribly wrong.
If you want to tattoo a cross on your forehead, great. But, when people ask you about it, don’t be so ignorant to think it’s trendy, because in truth it shows you a rebel marked for death, but by God’s grace one who might receive life instead.
If you do rock a cross: on your shirt, your shoes, your arm, or your car, live like you know the man who died on that symbol to give you life. Help others see, that although we live in a cross-culture, there are those among us who still live a culture of the cross.