Go by any church and take a look. Somewhere, there will be a cross on it. To us today, this makes sense. After all, for Christians, that’s the symbol of our faith. Christ died on that cross, after all, and that is the single most important event in human history. It makes sense we would put it both on and in our houses of worship.
At least it does for most people.
Me, though? It took me a while.
You see, I’m a history buff. That’s the lens I used to look at the cross for many years. I was baffled why any religion would use a means of execution as their holy symbol. After all, if Christ had been hanged, would we have nooses hanging around churches?
It took a long time, but one day I had my own epiphany regarding the cross and recognized why it’s the perfect symbol for our faith.
The epiphany I had took place a short time after a friend of mine, the music director at my church, suffered a massive stroke. He was a good man who always gave of himself, and did everything we Christians are asked to do. This opened up age-old questions about why God allows bad things to happen to good people.
I was sitting in church and looking up at our cross when I realized something.
After all, wasn’t the cross a horrible thing in and of itself? As a symbol of torture and execution, it should have been.
Yet that horrible thing gave humanity the greatest gift we will ever receive: salvation.
It may have been a bad thing that my friend, who was very active working with the children of our congregation, experienced a stroke. But what if one of the youths of our church was so impacted by what happened that this child grew up to eradicate strokes forever? In my mind, I began playing “what if” scenarios, each one painting what had been a tragedy as the catalyst for magnificent things for mankind.
If a torture device can lead to great things, couldn’t a stroke?
But that’s not all.
Later, while still pondering the cross, I thought about redemption itself. Christ died to redeem us, something we could never do on our own. However, in a way, He also kind of redeemed the cross itself.
Here’s this instrument of horror, and even it was redeemed by Him.
Since I was taught that anyone can be redeemed by accepting Christ as his or her personal Lord and Savior, that makes sense. If even the tool used to make his last moments unbearable was redeemed by Him, what have most of us done that can’t be forgiven?
A simple thing, just two pieces of wood joined together, and now look at it.
Much like the carpenter who joined many pieces of wood together himself, only to save our souls. So many layers to this one, simple symbol of our faith and all we need to do to begin to grasp the greatness of His glory is to simply think of how it began and how He transformed it—much like how He can transform us.