The Cross Dangling from My Neck · 13 April 2024

I wonder about the cross dangling from your neck. You see, I have a cross dangling from my neck too. I do not display it prominently. It usually dangles beneath my shirt rather than over it.

Many people are sporting crosses these days. Tattoos and jewelry are most noticeable. And when I see them, I always want to ask the wearer, “What does that cross dangling from your neck mean to you?” I want to ask the question because I want to have a discussion. And I want to know because I had to ask myself that question when I started wearing a cross.

I had been contemplating getting a cross when I received it as an anniversary gift from my wife. As I was contemplating the cross, I wondered why I wanted one. I wondered if it would just be a meaningless symbol or if it would be something more. More than that, I wondered how I would answer somebody when they asked me, “What does that cross dangling from your neck mean to you?” I wanted to be sure of my reasons for wearing the cross before I took up my cross. And I figured out two reasons for wearing my cross.

First, I wear the cross as a reminder to me of whose I am. Yes, whose, not who. I know who I am. I am just a guy striving to become a mediocre man. I am normal. Average or below. Like I said, striving to be mediocre. But whose I am is much more important than who I am. For I belong to God. Jesus is my Master and I am not ashamed to say it. The Bible uses the word “slave” or “servant” to describe a follower’s relationship to Jesus. We cringe from those words today. But perhaps we should not. Perhaps we should rather embrace them. At least when talking about our relationship to the one who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. You see, Jesus died for every bad thing that I have ever done or will do. Everything that goes against God has been paid for. The cross is the symbol that tells me the debt has been paid. God is appeased. I am free. And that goes for all followers of Jesus.

So since the cross means that my debt has been paid, since it is my bill of sale, I wear it to remind myself that I am not my own. God has paid my ransom. I am His. And as such, I will do what He says to do. He is the Master. I am His slave. Which is perhaps why people do not want to follow Jesus. The free gift of life costs too much. But does it really? Is obedience out of gratitude that much to ask when we weigh it against the reward? Life forever in God’s presence seems to be more of a gift than I could ever hope for. So first and foremost, I wear my cross to show that I belong to Jesus.

(I must digress for a moment. We Christians have co-opted the most vicious form of torture and death that the world has ever known to be a symbol of life. But in reality, the symbol could have and maybe should have been an empty tomb. After all, the empty tomb shows God’s resurrection power. The empty tomb is the symbol that tells me Jesus’ words were true. He is God. The empty tomb gives Jesus credibility. The empty tomb is the lynchpin of the Christian faith. Without it, there is no Christianity. But how do you depict an empty tomb? How do you wear an empty tomb around your neck? You do not. But a cross? That’s the ticket. It is easy to make. It wears well as a piece of jewelry. And it is full of meaning. At least to the wearers who rely on resurrection power.)

The other reason I wear my cross is so that others can tell me when I misbehave. When I am not acting like Christ would want me to act, people can point to the cross and ask if I am really His emissary. The cross is an invitation to others to hold me accountable to God. Now I know that some people do not know exactly what that means, but that is okay. For in inviting others to hold me accountable to God, I am inviting others to a conversation about what God really says. And I welcome that with open arms and open mind.

Nobody could ever really give a full description of their take on theology in a short blog post. After all, there is so much to say about grace and forgiveness and a whole lot more. And even though I will probably not ask many people what that cross dangling around their necks means, I certainly invite others to ask me. Your answer might be different from mine, but I still ask the question, “What does that cross dangling from your neck mean to you?”

© 2024 Michael T. Miyoshi

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