Saturday, July 20, 2013

Crisses and Crosses

The cross is a known symbol of Christianity, worn on shirts, necklaces, stamped on Bibles, adorning church signs and steeples. It is something beautiful, a sign of love and religion. It is also a reminder of an incredibly painful, violent death, an instrument of torture, pain we often choose to forget.

I've heard the wearing of a cross on a necklace likened to wearing a pendant of an electric chair, the guillotine, gallows, a lethal injection needle.

The first time I heard this, it stood out to me. I'd never thought about this symbol that way, not just as a reminder of life and hope and beautiful sacrifice, but also a reminder of death and pain and the most difficult sacrifice.

But I've started to notice. Crosses aren't the only instruments of death and torture we wear as jewelry or clothing. Belts and bracelets made of old bullets, pendants shaped like guns, an arrow bracelet wrapped around a wrist. These objects that can produce such violence and terror reduced to nothing. They aren't representative of a belief or often meaningful in any manner past a fashion statement or a cool look.

A cross used to represent someone's faith or beliefs, choosing to wear a crucifix was an identifying fashion statement, placing them in the realm of people who believed in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. Perhaps it was strange to wear an instrument of torture as a piece of jewelry, but at least it had meaning. If I saw someone wearing a cross, I could make an assumption about them how they identified themselves based upon their decision to wear it.

Now, crosses have been reduced to a mere fashion statement, with no statement attached. Huge and gaudy, side-ways or  upside-down, on bracelets and necklaces and giant rings across three fingers. They have become meaningless and thoughtless, perhaps even heretical.

Our culture has reduced the beautiful image of a King who loved His people so desperately He chose to die an incredibly horrific death to save their lives into a gaudy purple piece of plastic hanging sideways from a giant gold chain around someone's neck.

People don't see a cross and wonder about your decision and what you believe pertaining to it, now they just think of it as a fashion statement, a bit of color coordination, a cool design. It's a thing, instead of a symbol.

Our culture has made religion into a nice idea that could have a few good things about it, instead of the most important decision you've ever made. Let's remember what the cross means. It is so much more than a mere fashion statement to match a cute pair of earrings, it is the death of a King, a reminder of His resurrection, a representation of the greatest sacrifice ever made, and a symbol of the beautiful love of Jesus.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Now I See

Looking up I see
the cross

Bloodstained wood
Nine-inch nails

Reminder of
the greatest sacrifice

Closing my tired eyes
I see

A Savior staring
back at me

Through tears of pain
sweating bullets of blood

His loving eyes say,
"you are more than enough"

I open my eyes
See clearly

All weariness now
wiped away

His grace is enough
for all of me

Looking up I see
the cross

My mind transformed
My life renewed

Heart breaking
for what breaks His

Freedom for captive
Hope for orphan

My desires are His
for love, justice, mercy, and peace

Looking up I see
the cross

And I see myself
through my opened eyes

Lost and broken
Weak and weary

Adopted and loved
Restored and healed

Precious in the eyes
of my loving Jesus

I see the cross
And now I can truly see

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Looking to Now, Directions to Here

So often we find ourselves wanting the next thing, or looking back on the "better days" in our past, when things were easy or life seemed simpler. The reality is if we boarded a shiny beeping time-traveler and re-visited our past days, we would be as accosted by trails and tribulations as we are in the present...and will be in the future.

We often fail to be content with where we are now, fail to live completely in the here and now because the future looks so much brighter, or we want to revisit and reclaim the past.

But love and life are in the present, not the future or the past.

I recently read a book by Brother Lawrence, and it in he said, 

"I'm doing now what I will do for all eternity. I am blessing God, praising Him, adoring Him, and loving Him with all my heart."

This is the perspective with which we should be living. It's easy to look to the past and think, "oh life wasn't as busy and I was able to spend more time with friends, family, God," "I was a better Christian then," "I was this," I was that," while these things may be true, we are seeing the past with a shining, golden glow that would fade if we were to revisit those actual moments. We think the future will carry a lighter work load, we say "if" and "when" for the day when life will be easier and we long for those time. "When I get married," "when I graduate high school, college, grad school," "when I start my job," "when I get a new job," "when I buy a house," "when I have kids," with each life step we think everything will be perfect. Our minds dwell there, our hearts lust for these times, instead of the present, the moment. 

Reality is the old saying that there is no time like the present. 

We should not be waiting for some other time to live. To praise God, to love God, to serve God. It's not when we graduate and have more free time. It's not when we have a different life stage that somehow presents less struggle or more time that then we can live to the fullest and follow God and be better people, better Christians, better friends, better parents, better whatever. 

It's now. Right now we should be blessing, praising, adoring, loving, serving, giving, sacrificing, living for God. At work, in school, at home, with family, with friends. In busy times, in easy times. In pain, in joy. In sorrow, in gladness. In simple, in hectic. In stressed, in relaxed. In everything, our hearts and souls should be directed at the King.