The agony and ignominy of the cross has been somewhat forgotten. Modern Christendom has sanitized the cross. In some circles it’s nothing more than a sentimental icon, a symbol of comfortable sectarianism, or a talisman to ward off evil. We wear symbols of the cross as jewelry around our necks, use it to decorate places of worship, print it as a fashion statement on T-shirts, hang it on the walls of our homes for decoration, use cardboard cutouts of it for bookmarks, embroider it onto clerical robes, and dangle it from the rear view mirrors of our cars.
Christians need a renewed perspective of the cross. God forbid that the cross be anything less than Christ made it. It should never be reduced to an object of beauty. First and foremost it’s an instrument of death. More specifically it’s the instrument of Christ’s death - the trademark of the One who conquered death so that we might live. For the cross touches the hopes and lives of everyone. Without it faith would freeze, saints would go to hell, and the surrounding gloom would be darker than ever.
So let’s return the cross to Golgotha. In the words of George McLeod:
“I simply argue that the cross be raised again
at the centre of the marketplace
as well as on the steeple of the church,
I am recovering the claim that
Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral
between two candles:
but on a cross between two thieves;
on a town garbage heap,
at a crossroads of politics so cosmopolitan
that they had to write His title
in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek . . .
And at the kind of place where cynics talk smut,
and thieves curse and soldiers gamble.
Because that is where he died,
and that is what He died about.
And that is where Christ’s men ought to be,
and what church people ought to be about.”