Friday, August 19, 2011

Reflections on the Cross

Ryan Holladay is pastor of Lower Manhattan Community Church which meets two blocks from the World Trade Center site. His article in Christianity Today, “Why The 9/11 Cross Should Offend All of Us” is worth a few moments of your reflection.

A cross is on display at the memorial site and this is literally making some atheists sick. The atheists claim that the presence of the cross has caused them to suffer “dyspepsia, symptoms of depression, headaches, anxiety and mental pain and anguish”. Though many are not finding the atheists’ claims to be credible Holladay wonders if the atheists are taking the cross more seriously than do most believers.

Holladay reminds us that the cross “tells the world’s strangest story in an image.” The Apostle Paul said that the cross is to some a scandal and to others a joke (1 Cor. 1:23). Simultaneously and paradoxically the cross declares that mankind is sinful and condemned AND that God is merciful and full of grace.

When the Apostle Peter preached this dual message of condemnation and salvation in the cross the Bible says that “when the people heard this, they were cut to the heart.” Kind of sounds like the first century audience was at the same time sickened and hopeful.

Holladay opines, “The atheist litigants have called the 9/11 cross an ‘ugly piece of wreckage,’ arguing that it speaks of ‘horror and death.’ On the basis of the New Testament, these statements are difficult to contradict.”

How should one respond to the cross? Peter advised, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” The Book of Acts reports that thousands of people believed Peter’s message, responded with repentance and faith and their lives were changed forever and their lives changed our world.

In conclusion Holladay ponders, “Suppose God Himself has suffered and died at the hands of evil men. Suppose God Himself has shown the capacity for taking what was intended for harm and using it for good. Might this affect the way we ourselves face evil and suffering?”