Reflections on the cross
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! — Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)
Please think about these things. We now serve the body of Christ in the unity of Spirit having the same mind welcoming all who will come. The cross is a visual symbol which originated in paganism; it is found throughout the ancient world in cultures that preceded the Christian era. A common cross in the Eastern Mediterranean world was that used in the worship of the god Tammuz. The symbol of Tammuz was the initial letter of his name, the Greek letter tau, shaped like a “T,” with a circle over it representing the sun. Along with many pagan symbols and customs the “T” cross and other cross symbols eventually passed into Christian usage, introducing the horizontal arm.
As we reflect upon the cross, we are reminded of many things about life experiences. The old rugged cross that Jesus bore for us that all the world may go free causes us to realize that there is a cross for everyone. When Jesus died upon the cross of Calvary, He was lifted high, that all who passed by could see and mark Him. Today, we place the cross on the top of our churches that people may see from a far and know that we are Christians. The cross identifies who we are.
There is a church in Alaska, Kodiak Baptist, that has a cross on the top of its roof which gives directions to the pilots who fly the skies. Thus, the cross not only identifies us but it also gives us directions and it keeps us from becoming lost.
Delores Williams, a noted Womanist theologian, argues that the traditional way of viewing redemption through the cross causes critical questions. When considering black women’s experience of surrogacy, she becomes aware of the many forces that worked to erase African-American women’s power to resist and transcend obstacles. Williams uses the biblical character Hagar to symbolize redemption. Therefore, Williams takes a great risk illustrating the wilderness story of Hagar to the black slave woman’s plight as a story of liberation.
A relevant question we may ask is “How is it possible that the God who sends Jesus to be a surrogate for human sin saves oppressed and marginalized people? Does such an image lead to greater exploitation? If we were to ponder the question deeply, we will discover that oppressed and marginalized people have remained in devastating relationships in hopes that a person may change; thus, receiving unjust abuse, and sometimes believing that they are suffering for Christ.
Jesus was lifted high from the earth upon an old rugged cross and Jesus bore our sins. It was Jesus who paid our debts in full; it was Jesus who suffered for us that we may receive the free gift of pardon for our sins and have a right to the tree of life. We have the power and the authority from God to speak out against social injustices of the world. If you are oppressed or marginalized, feeling powerless God has given you power and the authority to rise up to live above your circumstances through Christ Jesus. Look at the cross it is your identity of being a Christian, look at the cross the price has been paid for you, look for the cross it will give you directions, look at the cross it is your redemption. Amen.
This column is the opinion of Rev. Gracie Jackson of Grace Community AME Mission in Eagle River.