DayBreaks for 9/09/15: Much More than a Cross
Do you want to know something that really bothers me? It bothers me when people act in very blatant, un-Christian ways when they’ve got a cross hanging from around their neck on a chain. I make no judgment call on their salvation, but we are told that “by their fruits you will know them” and their fruit certainly seems to be lacking in many such cases. I fear that the cross has been reduced, for many, to nothing more than a piece of jewelry. I have nothing against people wearing a cross – but it seems to me that it should cause us to be even more careful in our conduct before others, for the cross says something about us – or, at least, it should.
The people of Lithuania take cross bearing a little more seriously than we do. For them the cross symbolizes faith, hope and love. There are crosses are everywhere in the countryside, on roads, in city parks and village squares. Communities and individuals erect crosses to bring them health and to commemorate events like weddings, births and christenings. Crosses are also erected to commemorate historical events. One of those events was the Baltic Way, in which millions of people linked hands stretching across the Baltics from Estonia to Lithuania on August 25, 1989. About 9 monuments commemorate this extraordinary event.
The nation’s pride is the Hill of Crosses, located north of Siauliai. Lithuanians erected crosses there as early as the mid-19th century. The Soviet government couldn’t tolerate that kind of spiritual expression, so they totally destroyed the hill in 1961, then again in 1973 and 1975. But people kept erecting more crosses, until in 1980 their destruction stopped. Today the crosses number in the many thousands. They are different sizes and shapes, some simple, some ornate, but they immortalize Lithuania’s troubles, misfortunes, joys, hope and faith.
For them, the cross is more than a symbol in the church. It is symbol for the world to see. A symbol that will not go away. It is a symbol of sacrifice. A sacrifice that gives each and every one of us hope and faith and courage.
Jesus didn’t invite us to wear a cross, but to bear a cross. We must never forget that.
PRAYER: Jesus, whether we wear a cross or not, let us live our lives in such a way that we never bring shame on the cross where you died for us, or on you and your church! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.