A Symbol for Grace

Posted on October 27, 2011

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I think that we are all familiar with the cross as the overriding symbol of Christianity. If someone wants to appear Christian, or to make some sort of statement, it is often worn around the neck, or on some piece of jewelry. I remember when I was younger that we would be really excited when someone on tv was wearing one. We’d say, “Oh look! There’s a Christian, “ or, “They are Christian,” and be comforted that there was someone in the public eye, who people might follow, that could lead them towards Jesus.

Now it kind of seems silly. Wearing a cross doesn’t make you anymore Christian than being in a barn makes you a cow, or wearing rainbow colors makes you gay. Symbols can, however, declare an allegiance to a special group or interest.

Why is the cross our symbol? It is a tool of torture and death for criminals, and a reminder of a dark day. The day that we should celebrate is the day Jesus rose. Why don’t we wear the symbol of the empty tomb? Of the stone rolled away?

Other traditional symbols of Christianity are the trinity symbol, the lamb carrying a flag, and the fish symbol. The fish symbol has been a bit tarnished by commercial Christianity, but it has a neat story behind it.

In the days when Christians were the persecuted minority, when they got into a conversation with someone who might be a Christian, they would idly draw the fish symbol in the dirt with their foot. If the other person drew one back, they would find someplace safe to talk (almost sounds like some of the “secret codes” that the LGBT community uses, doesn’t it).

I feel like the cross has subconsciously drawn our focus to sin. The cross is where Jesus took all of our sins on himself. A pure being, sinless, took every disgrace from our record, leaving us unstained and himself bearing the heavy load. The cross is a symbol of that oppressive burden that human society collectively put on our Savior.

We’ve made Christianity all about the cross, all about sin. We are preoccupied with who is sinning. We check and judge every action that we make, that our brothers and sisters in Christ make, and the actions of “the World.” Sermons reveal new interpretations that show us how we are sinning in our everyday life. We are constantly trying to be “better” and more holy. It makes us uptight, it makes us judgmental, and it burns us out.

We need a symbol that represents grace. Not just the grace given to us, but the grace that we want to give to others. Replace judgment with grace. When you see a fellow Christian who is judging the homosexuals, the poor, the sinner next door, don’t hold bitterness in your heart to him/her. Give that person grace, love them, and see where God leads you.

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