//It’s my great pleasure today to welcome Kristin Renfer to Song Beyond Silence! Kristin is a fellow blogger and a Bible Bee alumni, and her heart for Christ and for others is a joy to see. Make sure to hop on over to her blog afterwards and leave a comment or two!//
It’s that time of year again…hearts, flowers, roses, chocolate, and the color red. You see it everywhere – grocery aisles, department store décor, radio and TV advertising, and colorful billboards. All declaring in loud, blaring obviousness that Valentine’s Day is here once again!
It’s a celebration and idolization of romantic love. Commercialized and represented most often by large, red hearts. These images encapsulate emotion, warm fuzzy feelings, and romance with a simple visual representation and are put forth by the world as the depiction of the essence and fundamental meaning of love. This is the world’s symbol and icon for love. However, is this what ours should be? Should we use the world’s model that lifts up fleeting emotion and fuzzy feelings and use it to represent the love Christ showed us and we ought to show others? Or does God have a different symbol in mind?
As I stated in an article I wrote last year for Valentine’s Day titled, “God’s View on Love”:
“…man fell from his perfect state, alienated himself from God, and corrupted his nature, including the ability to perfectly, selflessly, and purely love. Instead we have a commercialized, propagated, selfish feeling deemed as ‘true love’, which one can fall in and out of as easily as changing clothes. While this is what the world values as the essence and embodiment of love, God has a higher depiction and standard in mind.”
And this higher standard is a call to sacrifice. A call to lay down your life for your friends, to love as Christ loved you, and to pick up your cross daily to follow Him. Its standard is self-sacrifice and a love that is willing to give its life for another. This is the higher standard of love, and its symbol is not a red heart or box of chocolate, but rather a wooden cross.
Once the universal icon for torture, disgrace, and shame, the cross has now been transformed by God into the ultimate symbol for love. For upon it the unfathomable love of an infinite God for a finite creation was displayed, and on its outstretched arms were nailed the hands that created the universe as the perfect Son of God took our place and bore upon Himself the wrath of a just God for sinful man. This is amazing love!
Now the cross is something we usually see at Easter time, and is most often used to represent God’s love for us. However, is the symbol and meaning of the cross reserved for God alone? Or did He intend for us to share in this sign?
Just before His death, Jesus told His disciples:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
This is not the type of love we usually focus on. Usually, we look at passages like I Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4, which talk about how our love should be unconditional, selfless, and lasting if we call ourselves Christians. We rarely connect love with sacrifice. But God did. It was the way in which He showed His eternal love for us, and is the method He expects us to share our love for Him and for others. As Jesus commanded His disciples in Luke 9:23,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’”
So yes, we are intended to perpetuate the symbolism of the cross and life sacrificing love, because Jesus’ commands to the 1st century disciples apply to us – His 21st century disciples. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll be martyred for our faith or that we’ll literally have to take up a cross. But we must be willing to do so should the opportunity arise, and we must daily take up our figurative crosses by dying to self and living a life of self-sacrifice as we follow Christ. Therefore, I challenge you to start using the cross as your symbol of love. Not that heart images and clip arts are wrong, but as Christians and followers of Christ, let’s use God’s icon for love rather than the world’s, shall we?
However, this begs another point. Often people – myself included – wear cross jewelry, t-shirts with a cross graphic, or other fashion items stamped with a cross on them. And while this is a great testimony and statement, we must be careful that they don’t become mere beauty symbols or items we wear for looks and not for meaning. God ordained His spotless, perfect Son to die upon a cross, and made it our symbol of sacrificial, life surrendering love, so let’s not diminish its significance and meaning by making it a mere decorative item. Instead, let us give it two purposes: 1) a symbol of remembrance of what God has done for us, and 2) a statement of two-way commitment that I will follow Christ by denying myself and daily taking up my cross and will love my fellow man in such a way that I would be willing to lay down my life for another.
Brothers and sisters, this is the love of God and the high standard to which He has called us. So now I ask you, which symbol of love will you choose?
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Kristin Renfer has a passion for God’s Word and encouraging other believers to deepen their walk with God. She keeps a devotional blog/website at www.soifixmyeyes.com that includes devotional thoughts, Bible studies, book reviews, and more all for the express purpose of building up others in their faith. Outside of writing, Kristin enjoys cooking, card making, teaching music, blessing others with music—the language of the heart, and drawing believers before God’s throne through worship.