Two weeks ago, we were discussing the cross - and how it is a popular symbol today, but - is the horror and magintude of importance of the cross often forgotten in the mix of culture? During this conversation, one of the discussion points/questions were:
There are some key biblical concepts that define why the cross is so important. Talk about each of these truths and what they mean specifically:God is holy and without sin
We were asked to share any example of how we had heard God's holiness explained. So I shared my example:
My example uses lots of imagery. Imagine God is dressed in all white - and that heaven is all white. When we sin, it is like rolling around in the mud and becoming dirty. Our own parents would not let us enter their all white home, with an all white carpet, covered in mud would they? In comes Jesus - through His atoning sacrifice, He has cleaned the mud from us and made us able to enter into the prescence of God. Because, "no unclean thing can dwell with God". We need to be bathed in Jesus in order to be justified to enter God's prescence.
Quite a few people liked my example - and so I simply added, "This is how my parents taught me about God's Holiness when I was a child." I'm not sure if anyone made the connection - that I was raised Mormon. I feel like many Evangelicals and other Christians critical of the LDS faith - believe that Mormons ignore such simple, and basic foundational teachings like God's Holiness and justification through Jesus alone. Neither my family or my Primary teachers ever taught me that I was the one bathing myself to become clean before God - but Jesus alone.
I thought about this all week and on Sunday - attended my first block meeting in over a year. This decision was very last minute so I didn't have anything ready when Paul chimed in that he wanted to go with me. He was very well behaved considering we hadn't been to a service with him in over 18 months. He seemed to really enjoy Primary - he's now a Sunbeam and out of Nursery there. For Sunday School - I had to choose between attending Gospel Principals and Gospel Doctrine. I decided to go with GP - and sat down. The teacher was brand spanking new and this was her first Sunday teaching the class. At one point during the lesson, while explaining that in the Pre-Existence we were all spirit brothers and sisters (one Holy Father who created us) - she seemed to have a realization, "I think that's why we call each other Brother Jones and Sister Smith..."
I pondered over how some people seem to never delve into deeper understanding of their faith. To be clear, this isn't always bad. Personally, I think some people have the gift of faith like children - as Jesus explained in the Gospels. They simply accept these things on faith and perhaps have no further desire to study deeper but rather just live out what they have accepted. I've posted before - we're all different on our faith walks, some of us simply accept things and others are students - always learning more. It returned me to the cross - how many of us wear a cross everyday without thinking of the gruesome scenes that led up to the cross and on the cross itself?
During the small group discussion, the leader (who was subbing for our normal small group leader) discussed how some groups have crucifixes, some have empty crosses, and made a joke about how Mormons don't have crosses at all. Stubborn me chimed in.
- A crucifix is the atonement of Christ outside of time. It is a forever sacrifice that is given freely to all.
- An empty cross for a Protestant is to remember the sacrifice there but that Jesus lives and is not on the cross anymore. I don't believe Protestants agree with or believe the same as Catholics as the atonement being outside of time.
- Mormons don't have crosses for similar reasons that Protestants don't have crucifixes. If you look at a LDS building they have a spire that points heavenward. This is because LDS don't believe that Jesus is on a cross or in an empty tomb - He LIVES and as such is in heaven with Heavenly Father. It is to keep our focus on the eternal - to center our lives around Christ. If you look at a LDS temple, you'll see the the Angel Moroni with a trumpet - heralding the Good News of Christ and His Church on this Earth.
It is easy to look to the cross and merely think of salvation. But I think it is harder to look to the cross and think of the Garden where Jesus sweat great drops of blood from every pore of His body, the whipping, the crown of thorns - being forsaken as He became sin for us, and the great wrath of God pouring out upon His Son. I think, regardless of our differences - those of us who are His - be it Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, etc - that our lives center around His. My best friend recently learned something that I wish all Christians could remember - my perspective of black and white, and shades of gray - are not the same for all Christians. We are all unique on this walk of faith and as such, simply have to let God be God. A Catholic with a crucifix, a Mormon without a cross, and a Protestant with an empty cross - can all equally and passionatly love God.
At the end of the day, His arms are for those who call out for Him. Not, for only those with the currently accepted theology.