Sounds rather grotesque doesn’t it? A naked criminal, hands and feet pierced by nails, hanging from a tree, drowning in his own blood and lung fluid.
And yet this is exactly how Jesus died–which is pretty strange, when you think about it. The King of glory is mocked and spit upon. The Prince of Peace is whipped and shackled, beaten and cursed.
Perhaps even stranger is that Christians love this particular execution. Christians glory in this death. Because, through the death of Jesus on the cross, we are saved and forgiven (see Colossians 2:13-14). And so early on Christians began making the sign of the cross with their hands, putting it on their churches, and integrating into their art. Even today, it is not uncommon to see people wearing necklaces and bracelets with crosses.
It is the cross which has become a dominant Christian symbol. It is the Christian symbol. However, perhaps not everyone likes it this way.
When browsing through Spotify’s ‘Genre and Moods’ section, I noticed the Christian option. I was happy and surprised to find this secular music provider with a religious music selection (even if only because of the popularity of Christian music). Yet I was intrigued to find that Spotify had chosen a white dove as the symbol to represent this assortment of playlists. The ‘Party’ assortment has a disco ball, ‘Focus’ has a studying lamp, and ‘Romance’ has a heart. The ‘Christian’ selection has a dove.
What is so interesting about Spotify’s ‘Christian’ dove? It is evidence of the tempering and taming of Christianity. The dove represents hope and peace. Who can object to it? On a page dedicated to catering to the interests of customers, the dove offends no one. But the cross represents divine wrath, divine propitiation, and divine intrusion. Who can listen to this teaching? (see John 6:60)
Do Christians love peace? Yes! In many ways, the cross occured so we could be at peace with God and with one another (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:14). Colosians 1:20 states that the (bloody) cross has actually brought us peace with God.
But the stubborn fact remains that Christianity is a bloody religion. At the center of our hope, as Christians, is that Jesus bore that divine judgment that we deserved. So let us keep the cross as our religion’s ‘symbol’, even if this disappoints those who want a more tolerable Christianity and a more tolerable Christ.
“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).
“And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:6,9).
He is a bloody Savior and we will rejoice in this for eternity to come.