By Kayla Lutes, Features Editor

As I sat in my Foundations of Christian Thought class this semester, my professor asked a question to which it is pertinent for Christians to have an answer: what does the cross represent? While it is important for a believer to have an answer to this question, it is also imperative that believers think of the answers a nonbeliever might give. As my professor spoke about the hope of the cross, I couldn’t help but juxtapose his answer to what someone shared with me over the summer.

A mother came into my classroom minutes before the daycare where I work closed, and it was clear from her expression that she had had a difficult day. She explained to me that her therapy session to help her keep clean had been emotional, and because of that, it had gone over. After the session, she had to stop and pick up a prescription for her kids. Amid rushing between the appointment, the pharmacy and the day care, this mom found herself caught in the awfulness that is Lexington traffic. Adding to that awfulness was the car behind her. The “Christian” in the car screamed at her, and as the mom told me, the woman had “a cross dangling from her window reminding me of my faults.”

That is not what the cross is supposed to do. The cross: a message of hope or a reminder of faults? Christians, the cross is not our hope and their condemnation, it is the hope of the world. If nonbelievers see crosses dangling from our mirrors, slapped on the back of our cars, hanging around our necks, or tattooed on our bodies, and think that it symbolizes their faults, that it increases the gap between them and the God of the universe, then we are not doing our job.

The cross is not a reminder of faults; it is an eraser of them. Since the day this mother shared her story, my cross necklace has felt a little heavier. When I wear the cross, I think of who I represent. Jesus hung on a cross to bring hope. What a pity it is to think that after the pain he went through hanging on that cross, I might be misrepresenting him.

Christians, the cross is not our hope and their condemnation, it is the hope of the world.

For those who do not yet have an answer for what the cross represents to them personally, let me say what I wish I would have said to that mother: the cross is for you. I told her that the cross should be a reminder that she has been forgiven, but there’s more than that. It should be a reminder that the cross is for her, and it is for every soul on this planet.

As John 3:17 says, “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him” (NLT).

It’s an enormous responsibility to wear a cross. Keep in mind who you’re representing, and if you’re not up to the task, take it off.