05
Sep
14

it’s really NOT all about the bass.

blurry-sky-crossMost of the time it is a piece of jewelry to me. There purely for the purpose of personal adornment. Something to include as part of the ritual of getting dressed in the morning: Shoes? Socks? Watch? Wedding ring? Fitbit? Check, check, check and double-check.

Cross?

Today, for some reason, it was not a piece of jewelry. Somehow it seemed to vibrate and pulse and sizzle a little bit in my hand. It cried out and demanded I be fully alert to its real identity. “This is the Cross of Christ,” it said to me. “This shape you have chosen to hang around your neck by a cute little stainless steel chain is here to remind you of sacrificial suffering on a scale that you – pray to God – will never even be able to imagine.”

“This shape was employed as the supreme instrument of torture and humiliation by the most brutal empire in human history. It is also the shape of the definitive turning point in human history.”

“Do not haphazardly diminish the magnitude of its message,” it said. “The cross of Christ is not designed to make you look good. It is designed to make you weep as you recall the pain Christ endured for YOUR sake. It is designed to call you OUT OF your narrow, self-centered agendas as you contemplate the true meaning of sacrifice “on behalf of” the other.

“This cross is the shape that has inspired the building of magnificent cathedrals around the world, the creation of exquisite works of art, beautiful songs and poetry that have lifted souls to the heights of ecstasy. It is designed to embolden you to stand firm on the faith you say you profess… even when you are tempted to hide from its demands.”

“On this holy icon the course of human history bent forever AWAY from power and TOWARD love. From this shape sprouted the seeds of meaning and purpose for every person who will ever live.”

“Dare to hang this around your neck only with the appropriate fear and trembling it deserves.”

Throughout our days and weeks we see crosses so routinely that I wonder if they have become banal to us. They appear on buildings, on billboards, around the necks of our friends, co-workers, and on rappers and movie stars. They decorate the covers of books and records and even show up as yard ornaments… right there alongside the two frogs sitting on a loveseat holding an umbrella together.

My point is: the emblem of the cross should be anything but mundane. For anyone.            

 

I know that you have been at least as shocked and disgusted as I have been by the recent cold-blooded murders and beheadings of two journalists in Syria by the group known as ISIS. Those scenes are horrible beyond imagining. But take a moment and visualize this scene if you will: just as the masked assassin is about to do his worst, a gentle man comes into the view of the camera, lifts the journalist to his feet, kneels down in his place and says, “Not him. Me,” and bows his head in submission.           

 

Because that is exactly what Christ has done. For him… for you… for me… and for millions of other total strangers. And as gruesome and horrible as those videotaped murders were, Christ’s death on the cross was far worse in terms of sheer human suffering.            

 

Let us go into the rest of our day today and into the rest of our lives with deep gratitude for the sacrificial love Christ has showed to us. But let us also understand that his act was meant as a call to us to follow in those footsteps and to give of ourselves just as wholly… just as completely… as He did.


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