What is the difference between the cross and a bird feeder? For many people, sadly, not much. It is not uncommon to walk into a home and see crosses hanging on the wall, propped up on a table, or even being used as a form of jewelry. And for many of these homes there is no difference between the cross and other decorative items and ornaments except that maybe some are outside and some inside. Decorations and ornaments are used in order to pretty up a room. Whether it is an accent piece or the centerpiece, decorations make the space more inviting and comfortable. But there is nothing comfortable about the cross.
Foolishness to the World
The cross was meant to be an instrument for shameful, excruciating, and dehumanizing execution. So viewing the cross as purely decorative is similar to thinking the guillotine makes a wonderful centerpiece for your family gatherings. When Paul said, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…” (1 Corinthians 1:18), he wasn’t kidding. To the world, the cross would make more sense in the climax of a horror movie than in the home of a loving family. But if we can forget what actually happened there, wrap bows around it, and maybe paint it a pretty color to match our kitchen set then it will work perfectly.
Don’t be mistaken, I am all for having crosses in your house. In fact, from where I am sitting in my own house I can see four different crosses. But my challenge to you is to no longer view the cross in your house as simply a decoration. View it as a reminder.
God’s Power to the Believer
Paul finishes his statement about the foolishness of the cross by saying, “…but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” It is the power of God because what happened there is what allowed the dead to be brought back to life. What happened there allowed those clothed with wickedness to be clothed with Christ’s righteousness. The cross as a symbol ought to be a reminder to us that sin is serious and God is gracious.
It is not uncommon, when someone sacrifices their life to save another, that the rescued person finds some way to remember. There have been many who were rescued in this way who carried around some kind of symbol to remind them of their debt to the one who rescued them. The cross serves us in this way. It is the place where Jesus became our sin, suffered complete rejection from the Father, and cried out, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). He received the condemnation of Almighty God for the believer’s sins and in turn gives to all those who will believe His righteousness. The cross displayed the horrible and utterly devastating wrath of God. But, at the same time, it displayed His mercy and grace for those who rightfully deserved that wrath.
I pray you see the cross as more than just a decoration or an accent piece. I pray you see it as more than just a religious symbol. I pray the sight of the cross calls you to remember. And I pray the same for myself. Every day, when we look upon the crosses hanging on our walls or sitting on our mantles, I pray we remember the horror and destruction Jesus suffered. I pray we feel the weight of His groaning. I pray we remember the day the perfect Son of God drank our cup of wrath and handed to us His cup of righteousness. And I pray the thought of it all shocks us back to life, humility, and faithful service every day.
Brothers and sisters, let us not place the cross in our living room in the same category as the bird feeder out back.