How is it that Jesus and his cross can be so effortlessly aligned with political and ecclesial imperialism, representing not love but hatred, not mercy but brutality, not life but death? There are regions of the world where many see the cross as an image of so-called “Christian” America, which is not a compliment. Launching wars in the name of God, proclaiming Christian values around the world with smug arrogance while squandering our own resources and neglecting our own citizens, we have become a mockery of all of the values Jesus espoused, tainting the authenticity and integrity of the Christian life. [...]Amen.
The cross is displaced when what it signifies is grossly at odds with its message. And considerable blame for this rests upon the Christian community. The church has twisted the symbol of Jesus’ love and compassion for humanity to such an extent that we find ourselves at cross purposes with its message, complicit in its distortion.
In the true cross we find a counter-cultural vision where all the prevailing values of the world are judged and overturned. Strength, power, and victory are now defined by this Jesus who in the eyes of the world was weak and powerless, a victim. Yet, this is the one raised by God, according to the Gospels, the one willing to suffer with humanity in all our pain, alienation, and sorrow.
It is Easter. He is risen. May we as Christians also rise and reclaim the cross, from a symbol of arrogance and oppression to one of healing and hope.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
A Symbol of Healing and Hope
The Society of Mutual Autopsy has a timely essay on the meaning of the cross: