Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Cross Necklace is a Reminder of Hope

I have a cross necklace that I put on this morning. I don't wear it all that often, and it needed polishing since it had tarnished somewhat. There are those who say that it is wrong to wear a cross necklace, but I disagree. They say it is like wearing an electric chair pendant around one's neck; I can't really say. I know that both are instruments of death, to exercise justice toward the most vile criminals. One is antiquated and one is modern-day. They have their similarities, to be sure. But there is one vast difference.
The electric chair has only been in existence in recent times. It has been used to kill many people who were declared guilty of heinous sins, murderous deeds. It may even have been used unjustly; maybe some who have been executed with it were innocent of the crimes for which they were accused. In that case, it would bear resemblance to the cross of which my necklace is a reminder. But it still wouldn't be an exact similarity.
I don't know of any outstanding stories regarding the electric chair, though I imagine there may be some. I know that no one that was sinless died in an electric chair, and that no Son of God died in an electric chair. I don't know very many stories about people crucified that have come down through the ages, either. But I know of one famous story, and that one has changed my life, and for that I wear my cross necklace as a reminder. If Jesus had died for my sins, sinless Himself, giving His life willingly and freely for me before I had even known to love Him, and the instrument He died upon were the electric chair, if the purpose in His dying was to release me from the penalty of my sins, and for that He underwent electrocution, and as a result I was reconciled with God, then the electric chair and not the cross would be my symbol of hope, of faith, of love--of God's ultimate sacrifice for an unworthy humanity.
There is a cult that insists that Jesus did not die on a cross, that He died on a stake. For some reason they think that the instrument makes a difference. I suspect that the cross is just too sure a reminder of the truth of the story and they want to make changes in order to cast doubt on the true version of God's word. Their insistence, and their change, makes no difference to me; if I were convinced that it were a stake, and if Jesus had died on it as the sinless Son of God, Immanuel (which means, God with us), for sinful me, then I might have a stake dangling from my necklace. I am convinced it was a cross, and that is what will remain on my necklace. Not an electric chair, not a stake; and if I were to pick another symbol of His love, what would I pick? I can't think of any other that better relates the crux of my hope.
So if you see my cross necklace, don't think that I have a sick fascination with death, with punishment, with torture; I don't. I see in the necklace a beauty that is not at the surface of His death, not focused on the pain and humiliation itself, but a beauty that is in His heart for humanity. I see beauty in His sacrifice, in the eternal hope that He secured for us. And the cross is the instrument not only of His death, but our hope. Satan couldn't keep a sinless Christ in the grave; Jesus rose from the dead and demonstrated His power over sin and death. He is risen, He is victorious! As a result, I have hope and peace that comes from knowing that God loves even me, enough to send His own Son to the cross, to bring me to relationship with Him, and eventually to heaven. Hallelujah! Blessed be the name of the Lord! Amen!

2 comments:

Shani said...

Wow, what a good way to focus on who God is, and how He paved the way for us to be reconciled to Him! Thanks, Mrs. A. Once during Tuesday's prayer lunch in my senior year, Kim W. prayed that she would keep the gospel central in her prayers, that she would remember to thank God for the cross. I think of that every time I confess my many sins.

One anecdote that's nice about cross necklaces is that Catholics look to the crucifix, which shows Christ's suffering. Christianity, however, shows just an empty cross - He conquered it, and our sins are left there!:D

Adam Bodford said...

I know this is old but the Green Mile is a really great story involving an electric chair.