Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? –Matthew 16:24-26
When I was little, I helped my father pick out a cross necklace for my mother, even though we weren’t all that religious at the time. While we were looking, I found one with Jesus on it. I figured that was the best one to get. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to get both a cross and Jesus at the same time?
My dad told me we didn’t wear crosses like that. Only Catholics wore crucifixes. (At the time, I didn’t think it was very fair for Catholics to be stingy with Jesus like that.)
When I got older, my family settled into an Anabaptist form of fundamentalism. I heard more comments about crucifixes.
What sort of person would hang a dead body on their wall?
I heard crucifixes were morbid and put the focus on Christ’s death when it’s really his resurrection we should focus on. Why would we want to sit around and be sad all the time about Jesus being crucified? Christians were supposed to be joyful all the freaking time. If we weren’t bouncing off the walls with joy, then we obviously weren’t filled with the Holy Spirit. There was no room to reflect on our own suffering or the sufferings of others. There was no place for a victim God.
My savior is alive. I also have crucifixes in my house.
Seeing Christ on the cross is an important reminder for me. Years ago, a pastor reminded me we can’t get to Easter without walking through Good Friday. Christians usually like to jump ahead to the celebration of Easter without acknowledging what it takes to get there. It takes suffering. Blood, sweat, tears, and dirt.
Jesus told us to take up our crosses and follow him. When he said those words, the people listening knew exactly what he meant. He wasn’t talking about enduring inconvenient things in our lives. Back then, a cross meant one thing—death.
The crucifix reminds me there’s a cost associated with following Jesus. It’s the way of death, and death isn’t pretty. It’s a messy, heartbreaking, dangerous path.
The crucifix reminds me of Christ in all of us. How can I say Jesus isn’t on the cross anymore when there are so many people suffering?
On Good Friday, it’s important for us to sit with that suffering and acknowledge its impact on us and on the world. Jesus is alive and Jesus is hungry and friendless and exhausted and sick and cold.
The crucifix can remind us to do something about that suffering, knowing that “doing something” will mean the death of comfortable and ignorant lives. It’s the death of arrogance and self-importance.
So many Christians claim they’re willing to die for Christ when they aren’t willing to live as though they were dead for Christ.
What good is it to gain the world and lose our souls? What good is it for us to seek power so we can push out people we don’t like? What good is it to set ourselves up as Christian celebrities?
Dead people don’t need fans.
The crucifix isn’t a symbol of death for me so much as it’s a reminder of how I should live.