Allow me to paint you a picture.
You’ve got two big, flat pieces of wood, and a quasi-church-coffeehouse-type building. The pieces of wood are as old as the building itself. You don’t need them for framing or construction, but they’re too cool and historic to throw away. What do you do with them?
One of our volunteers at the Front Porch had a suggestion: a cross! Why not? When a Christian has two big pieces of wood and a quasi-church whatever… a cross is a natural solution.
I love this guy, who suggested this. He is one of the most genuine, friendly, helpful people I know. But on this point, I had to disagree. When I see two pieces of wood that ought to be used somehow, you know what I think?
A bench. Right outside the front door. Maybe even a place for a Christ-follower to have a cigarette with a stranger (note: smoking is bad for you.)
More importantly, a bench on the sidewalk is a place for conversation. It’s a place to sit down, relax, and get to know somebody. And since it’s on a sidewalk, there’s no telling who might walk by and want to join you, or recognize you from somewhere else and stick around to chat.
If you want my opinion about the cross… Jesus’ death was the most important event in all of history (with the possible exception of his resurrection… or maybe Creation.) The cross represents the turning point of mankind, and it is the hinge (better yet, the crux) on which our spirituality turns. I love the cross.
But do I wear one? No. Do we display them in our home? Not really. Do I want to have a cross up at the Front Porch? Probably not.
Because, no matter how much you love the cross, you have to ask yourself why you would want to keep one around. If you have a good reason for it, more power to you. But I can also see some ways that being in the constant presence of symbols of our faith has brought about complacency.
What religion is Jack? Christian. How do you know? The fish on his car.
Does ABC Plumbing charge a fair price? Probably. How do you know? The cross in their ad.
Our symbols can so easily define us… to others and to ourselves. When we are surrounded by them, we feel that we have made our point. But what might happen if our symbols disappeared? What if we suddenly forgot all our cliches and buzzwords? Then how would people know what we believe?
We might have to resort to caring for the poor, visiting the sick, and listening to the weird. We might have to fall back on things like love, prayer, and worship (the real kind… from the depths of our heart.) We might decide to actually spend time with people… and be Christ to them.
I’m not saying that Christians never do these things. But if that’s all we had to define us, maybe we’d be a little more gung-ho about it, don’t you think?
So once again, I love the cross. But if you’re out and about, and you see a little miniature bench that I could glue to my fender, call me.