Have you ever looked at something so ugly, or so repulsive that you just had to turn away? Perhaps it even caused a reaction in the pit of your stomach that forced you to look away. I am certain that the above comment surely conjured many revolting mental images, but there is one image of ugliness that I doubt came to anybody’s mind. An image that once caused men, women, and children shake their heads in disgust. An image that was at one time a picture of shame; that image is the cross!
The cross was a symbol of shame. It was the means of ending one’s life in utter disgrace. If someone one sentenced to die on the cross, it indicated that this person was the lowest of lows, the dirtiest of them all. People would pass by and spit at them, or even curse them, while gazing at the cross in disgust.
But look at the cross today. What happened? Today we look upon the cross with such reverence. I would say that every one of us has at least one cross or picture of a cross among their belongings. Today, when I look at a cross, it is easy for a lump to form in my throat and tears to fill my eyes. Today, most of us see a cross and we feel a sense of awe and reverence. Why? How can such an image of disdain be transformed into an image of profound respect?
What happened that changed the world’s opinion of the cross?
That change came when our Savior was nailed to that cross, a sacrifice for our sins. He bore our shame for us on that day. Because our Savior was nailed to that cross and became my ugly shame, the image of the cross has been transformed into an image of love and beauty.
This may not seem like a big deal to you, but think about this;
So often I run into someone who radiates the love of Christ and have become a walking billboard for the beautiful love of God! We all know a people like this, they are everywhere. The sad truth is that many times Christians expect these wonderful examples of Christ to be perfect, (ugh) perfect SINCE BIRTH! (Oh you know there are perfect people EVERYWHERE!) When they discover that they have a forgiven past, they are no longer able to see the awesome Beauty of Christ in these people. Perhaps these types of critics need another look at the Cross, then and now, to jog their memory of the beauty of forgiveness.
Until the cross was labeled as an image of shame, it had no beauty, nor shame. It was the shame of sin that gave the cross a negative image, and it was the love of Christ that gave the Cross an image of beauty. Without Christ, we all look like a troubled mess, but because of Christ, we are transformed into beauty! If we are created in His image, then we are created in BEAUTY!
I can now see the significance of the cross. It was transformed from an object of shame and disgrace into a symbol of perfect love. The same can be said for the lives of you and I. Our life was a symbol of shame and disgrace, but because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we now reflect His perfect love!
The next time you see a cross, try this; don’t focus of the form of the cross, but instead reflect on the changes that cross has made in your own life, and your own image. The Crucifixion transformed your ugliness into beauty. Think about this and stop condemning others for the forgiven-ugliness in their past.