For many people, the Cross has been the center of their focus for the past month or so. For some folks, it is because of the movie The Passion of the Christ. For others, it is because of the preparation for special Easter celebrations. For far too many, however, the Cross is more like a good luck charm that they keep around for emergencies. For them, it is like the coat hanger in the story below.

One rainy evening, my husband and I emerged from a restaurant only to find that he had locked the keys in the car. He insisted he could open the door with a wire coat hanger, so we went back to the restaurant to get one. There were none to be found.

John then ran to a department store a quarter-mile away and returned with a hanger. After a few attempts, he got the door open and we climbed in. As we sat there, soaked and cold, he stuck the hanger under his seat.

With a smug grin, he said, "Now if this ever happens again, I'll have one."

It is easy for us to understand the foolishness of the conclusion of the husband in the story. Yet don't many of us do the same type of thing with the Cross?

We keep our ornamental cross tucked away on a chain around our neck, in our pocket, or maybe even hang it on a wall at home. It's there until we "need" it. Unfortunately we are disappointed when we can't get to it or can't get it to work the way we thought it would in our time of emergency. It is as if we hope it will ward off illnesses, the possibility of death, or any impending bad news. Jesus emphasized that is not the purpose of the real Cross.

"The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day." And he said to them all, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:22-23 KJV)

Without the Cross there could have been no resurrection!
For others of us, the Cross is used to remind us of the hope we have no matter what bad thing may happen to us here on earth. We recognize that on the Cross the debt of all of people's sins — the debt of our sin — was paid. We know that the Cross is where the power of the resurrection exploded into the world of real men and women. We appreciate the truth that without the Cross there could have been no resurrection or resurrection power released into our world and into our lives. We believe that the work of salvation was done for us by Jesus on the Cross. We are convicted that we are to follow the example of that Cross and live sacrificially for Jesus and for others.

The apostle Paul wrote, "For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18 KJV) He also wrote, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16 KJV)

It's interesting to me that in both of these verses the word translated "power" is the Greek word dunamis — the word from which we get our English words "dynamo" and "dynamite." The power of God comes to us through the Cross — not as a mystical object, but as a sacrifice of the life of the Son of God for our sin so that we can obtain everlasting life.

So, hold on to the Cross! Not as a mystical symbol to ward off evil, but as a God's loving and sacrificial power that allows us to win over evil no matter what happens in life. This power is our key to our living forever with our God!