By Sharon Carey
As an young Adventist I never wore any more jewelry than a wrist watch—okay, maybe a string of noodles as a necklace at camp—but never, no never a real necklace, especially a necklace with a cross! When I came out of Adventism, I had a desire to wear a cross; I wanted to tell the whole world that I was a Christian. My feelings were kind of like when one falls in love, and she just wants everyone to know!
Eleven years later, that desire still exists. I wear a cross almost every day, but I haven’t explained why until now. As I set out to do so, I did what most of us do: I went to the internet to see what others have said. Within a minute I knew internet research wasn’t the route for me. The number of anti-cross articles was overwhelming, and I didn’t want to be influenced by any of them.
I want to write to you all from my heart. These are things that I have long pondered, and I’m putting them down so that maybe you will feel free to wear a cross, too.
The cross is:
- A reminder for me to curb my fleshiness, my natural tendency to selfishness and rudeness, and replace it with thinking of others before myself. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3). My actions and words need constant reminding that God canceled my debt for all my wrongdoings. “This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14b).
- A promise of forgiveness and the New Covenant. Jesus, knowing that the cross was just hours away, takes a cup of wine and says, “Drink of it, all of you. For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt.26:27b-28). The author of Hebrews says, “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant” (Heb. 9:15). These promises give me peace and fill me with love for my Savior!
- A proclamation that I am Christian, and I am not ashamed to say so. “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14), and whenever I am tempted to hide my faith, I am reminded of Paul’s words, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).
- A paradoxical symbol—not an idol, but a symbol to remind us that what was once ugly is now beautiful, a symbol of true grace. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal.2:20). It is a symbol of sorrow and joy: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20).
- A witness tool that opens the door for others to discuss Christianity with me. I have been involved in some interesting conversations in places like Costco that would not have occurred had I not been wearing a cross, so in that way I seemed approachable. “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). We must always keep in mind that “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake!” (2 Cor. 4:5).
- An exercise of religious freedom. In some countries I would not be allowed to wear the symbol of the cross. It is possible that in my lifetime this freedom could be taken from me. It might become “offensive” or seen as a “hate crime” one day. I may have to comply, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom. 13:1). My cross necklace also gives fellow Christians the freedom to say publicly to me, “God bless you” or “Have a blessed day!” which is encouraging to me, especially on a difficult day. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thes. 5:11).
The cross I wear is much more than a pretty piece of Adventist-forbidden jewelry. It is not a defiant little thing I wear to annoy anyone. No, the cross I wear is my small yet overwhelming sign to everyone who meets me that I belong to Christ. It is a symbol to tell all that I have come to trust in Him fully. It’s my reminder of my Redeemer, and I wear it near my heart to shout out to the world, “I love Him because He first loved me!” †