How do Christians identify themselves in a way the world understands? When we wear crosses, apply a bumper sticker to our car, or even display a tattoo, are we conveying a message of the cross or simply staking our identity?
When travelling to major cities during the fall, a person can quickly discover the identity of the city by the number of jerseys, t-shirts, and jackets people wear. An ardent fan will proudly wear the colors and logos of their favorite team.
Yards signs and bumper stickers will proclaim support for a political candidate in the weeks leading up to an election. Provocative hair styles will proclaim an identity of simply being different.
People establish an identity by communicating their alliance in the clothes they wear or the physical signs they place on the things they own.
How do people who have placed their trust in the completed work of Jesus Christ identify themselves to the world?
I am not sure if wearing a cross communicates that message anymore, because it carries a wrong connotation.
In today’s pop culture, wearing a cross is considered cool. In other cultures, a cross is considered more of a good luck charm than a symbol of faith. And sadly, the cross carries baggage of abuse, hypocrisy, or an identification with a conservative political cause. Combined with a general lack of biblical literacy, the significance behind the message of the cross has lost some of its true meaning. And perhaps even its identity.
By wearing or displaying a cross, are we part of a culture or a faith?
Without being provided a platform to carefully proclaim what the Bible teaches, Christians may desire to seek another means to convey their identity in Christ.
Something that is far more risky.
Something that will separate you from the world.
Something that will mark you as a true believer in Christ and display to the world that Christ lives in you.
The Israelites of the Old Testament used a symbol of faith that set them apart from the world. It was not an outward symbol for public display as a means to identify themselves as followers of the one, true God, but something completely different. Circumcision. The most private place of the human body held the symbol of faith and a reminder of God’s covenant with His people. It was God’s testimony that He always keeps His promises – the promises that were first given through Abraham.
The Israelites public symbol of faith was not in what they wore, but in who they were. God’s children. Their actions were a loud proclamation that the hand of God was with them. Whether miraculous protection from invading armies or promises kept to inherit land set apart for them, God’s hand provided victory for the Israelite people.
And it is God’s hand that proclaims victory today!
It’s not victory over other nations, nor victory in elections, but the victory Christ won for us on the cross.
What symbol can a Christian wear that proclaims this victory!
“A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.” (Romans 2:28-29)
Truth today is conveyed to those who have earned the right to speak it. And that is done by their words and actions. The only way this can be done is through a circumcised a heart – an outward display of an inward life in Christ.
The cross is a symbol of sacrifice and suffering. Loving others is a sacrifice of self. Sharing God’s Word may cause anger, resentment, and ridicule from others. Both involve a risk, a separation from this world, a living testimony of the message behind the cross.
Perhaps a circumcised heart is the symbol our world needs more than anything.