Christian Living

Do You Worship the Cross?

We Must Guard Against Turning the Symbol of Jesus’s Death into a Modern-Day Idol

Do you worship the cross? The cross is the instrument of Jesus’s death when he died in our place for the wrong things we did—our sins. As such, it rises as a powerful symbol of our faith.

Yet some well-meaning people place too high of emphasis on this image. In effect, they worship the cross.

Don’t Point to the Cross

When people worship the cross, they end up making it a modern-day idol. They place crosses prominently in their homes and on their cars. They wear them on their body, be it in the form of jewelry, clothes, or tattoos.

Yes, this symbol of Jesus can serve as a means for us to talk to others about him. But how often do we do that? To make this work, we must live our life like Jesus.

Yet too often when we fall short and don’t exemplify him well, the cross we adorn—and adore—leads other people to confuse our failings with Jesus and who he is. And that’s exactly the kind of witness we want to avoid.

I’ve also heard people who refuse to attend a church that doesn’t prominently display the cross of Jesus on the building and have it on the inside. But they’re missing the point.

Point to Jesus

Jesus is what matters. The cross is secondary. It’s a symbol of the savior, not the savior.

Have you ever seen people bow down before a cross? I have. When they do this, they appear to worship the cross. Though we can’t know their motives, and they may be worshipping Jesus in their minds, this isn’t how it appears.

You may wonder if a crucifix (a cross with the suffering savior upon it) solves this problem. Though it visually lessens the disconnect between the savior and the instrument of his death, it can also become an image of worship.

A crucifix can serve as an idol just as much as a cross.

It would be an overreaction, however, to remove these iconic symbols from our lives. They serve as important representations of our faith, pointing to the savior we worship.

But we must be careful to not worship the cross.

Instead, we should worship Jesus who died on the cross and then rose from the dead to save us.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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