The Crux of the Matter June 6, 2016
Surveys tell us that the tall sweep of McDonalds’ golden arches is the most recognized logo in the world. Another is the smooth curve of Nike’s fattened checkmark, aka, “the swoosh.” Fast rising to the elite level of these two is that alluring silver piece of fruit with a single leaf and a missing bite (hint: not Microsoft). And then there’s the iconic five interlocking rings of the Olympics, each a different color with three above and two below.
What is the universal symbol—i.e., the logo—of the Christian faith? There might be several options. Perhaps you think of the ichthys, i.e., the fish, which originated as an acronym (in Greek) for “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.” Or maybe the dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Or perhaps bread and wine, the elements of communion, which are themselves symbols for the body and blood of Jesus. Certainly the steeple is a well-known symbol which marks out certain buildings as places of Christian worship.
All of these are fitting and important, but none can rival or replace the cross. The cross is the central Christian symbol. Why? Quite simply, without the cross, there is no Christianity. It is the crux of our faith, the crucial element. In fact, these two words—“crux” and “crucial”—both mean central, critical, vital; and both derive from the Latin stem for “cross.” These two words have come over into English with their current meaning because the concept of the cross is, to Christianity at least, central, at the very core, of the essence.
This should be no surprise to us if we’ve read our Bible with any attention to detail. “I delivered to you,” Paul wrote, “as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” Note the priority: “as of first importance.” Nothing greater. Nothing prior.
The cross is central to our faith. But is it central to our reputation? Is it even central to our lives? Is it the thing we are best known for, the message we most often repeat, the theme that’s most frequently on our mind? People the world over see that shiny yellow “M” and immediately think “Hamburgers!” What would it take for them to see a Christian (you!) and involuntarily think “Oh yeah! Christ died for our sins”?