What the Cross Means to Me

30 06 2014

By Kris Judd, staff pastor

My physician wears a simple silver cross on her lapel. I had not noticed it until a recent visit, and I was not aware of her religious preference. But I knew she was a woman of faith by the way she spoke and treated her patients. I told her I appreciated that she was not afraid to wear the symbol of her faith, and she responded, “I wear it close to my heart. It’s my work.”

Jim Wallis of Sojourners made a similar comment when he wrote about the popularity of Pope Francis. “Francis is just doing his job. The pope is meant to be a follower of Christ.” I love Pope Francis, not only for what he does for the poor, the oppressed, the excluded, and marginalized, but for what he is doing for all Christianity in its diverse shapes, forms, and denominations.

He’s not ashamed of Jesus. People not only are noticing, they’re celebrating this humble leader who lives and loves like Jesus because that is his job, and that is who he is.

Feeding the hungry, crying for justice for those without voice, empowering the powerless…these are more than good deeds performed to build community. These are the actions, intentions, and inclinations of one who knows and boldly lives the invitation to follow Christ.
Wallis also comments:

The remarkable acts of kindness and grace we see with Pope Francis are the natural response from a disciple who has known the kindness and grace of Christ in his own life. The pope’s moments of Christ-like compassion and love point not to “a great man,” but rather point to Jesus. He is not asking us to follow him, but inviting us to follow Christ.

Many of us struggle with the Mission Initiative of Invite People to Christ. It is perhaps the most important, yet most difficult, to do. It challenges us to leave our comfort zones and face our egos, which prefer to avoid rejection at all costs; to state our truth rather than remain silently respectful of all other truth-tellers in our pluralistic societies; to boldly live our faith in actions and words that tell the source and reason for our faith.

Actions are critical because it’s through the work of our hands and feet that poverty is abolished, peace is pursued, and communities are built. However, if we fail to speak of the life and ministry of Jesus, the source of our faith and community as Christians, then we and our community become the worshiped. And when either the community dies or we are no longer present, so, too, does the hope and faith of the ones we’ve invited in.

We are called to point to the One who gives hope and is worthy of our faith, not to be the recipients ourselves.

Jesus Christ is worth speaking of through bold and generous lives, through story, testimony, invitation, and the simple and ordinary work of disciples, like Francis, my doctor, and each of us.


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