With Easter upon us, that most venerable day when Christians across the globe celebrate the atoning death of Jesus, we would do well to remember that THE symbol of this day, the cross, is not only a link to God, but it is also a pathway to bridging the many racial and cultural issues that divide us all today.
Take a look for yourself. The cross points upward to God, signifying vertical reconciliation. Yet the cross is incomplete without the horizontal cross member, which points laterally, towards people. The cross tells us that in Christ we can be one; it has the power to bridge the division between the races, sexes, and cultures that is growing within our society. The cross says: “Your sins have been forgiven with God, but also to love your neighbor as yourself.”
We seem to forget the incredible power of this forgotten symbol of God’s love to heal and to reconcile. As a pastor I’ve led many estranged couples to reconcile by helping them to rediscover the symbols of their love – reigniting the memories of their first date, their wedding song, or fun things they did together when they first met. Invariably their minds leave the pain and frustration of their strained relationship. They remember these symbols of their love - and the healing begins instantly. This is a microcosm of the cross’ healing impact. Don’t forget the cross!
The cross, though painful for Jesus, brings us to a happy place. Sin had produced an insurmountable debt. Each time we violated God’s commands our indebtedness grew. We were faced with a dilemma. How do we pay our debt to God and experience his forgiveness and peace? Our guilt, self-condemnation, and shame piled up, having no human remedy. Through all of this, God’s love for us never waned. Jesus’ death reconciled us with God. His death paid our debt and gave us life.
Jesus’ death also reconciles us to other people. Yet today, a majority of people inside and outside of the church continue to live monocultural lives, socially isolated from other races. Not only is this limiting and boring on a personal level, it is also a form of prejudice, which is obviously a sin. It’s a sin to live a racially isolated life, thereby ignoring the role of the cross in the work of reconciliation. This is not acceptable – we cannot opt to have some sins forgiven while others are cherished, as if to say, “They’re okay.” If forgiveness of lying, stealing, adultery, and even murder are eagerly desired, we must also use the healing power of the cross to live in diversity and equality. Let this Easter resurrect a new you, a better you, a godlier you. Invite someone of another culture, race, or ethnicity over your home for Easter and let the cross’ reconciling power go to work at your dinner table.
This is why the apostle Paul wrote, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
Jesus sacrificed everything at the cross for the sake of restoring our relationships. This Easter, reach across the racial, cultural and ethnic aisle to begin to restore relationships with others. In so doing, you’ll be demonstrating the biblical truth: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16).
I pray that this Easter you’ll fully experience the reconciliatory power of the cross.