European Evangelical Alliance Reminds Christians of Jesus' Cross this Easter

One of the most important Christian events - Easter will come in two weeks time. European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) released an Easter message. The message was presented by the General Director of EEA, Rev Joel Edwards.

Firstly, referring to the increasing secular society, Rev Edwards proclaims that the symbol of the Cross still has a powerful message to the ever-changing world, "the cross is a message that Christians should remain justifiably proud of and openly proclaim."

Even though to many, the symbol of the Cross carries little meaning, he illustrates the worthiness of the Cross by using a parable, "In our world, the ordinary emerges into a powerful symbol because of its association with a momentous event. Before September 11, 2001 few of us paid any attention to the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre; now they have become a powerful and iconic image of our capacity for evil as much as our vulnerability."

He continued to discribe the history and the dramatic change of the impression of the Cross since the first Apostles of Jesus has realised the true meaning of Jesus' crucifixion.

Two thousand years ago, crosses had once been a sign of execution, but the meaning has disappeared since the death of a carpenter who lived in the Middle East.

"The cross was not a knee-jerk emblem of Christian faith. It emerged over a period of two centuries to become the most enduring symbol which Christians, themselves a persecuted minority in a hostile culture - adopted as their token of suffering and triumph," Rev Edwards says.

When explaining the reason why the cross of Jesus is enduring, Rev Edwards stresses that "it is because of the astonishing claims Jesus made which resulted in his death and which maintained the peculiar emphasis on the Cross". The claims have now become the very fundamental testimony of a true Christian - Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.

Rev Edwards says, "If Jesus was not who he claimed to be, Easter events become meaningless and the Cross itself as a symbol becomes an empty shell rather than a potent symbol."

He then draws the attention to a statistic by Gallup poll, which showed that from 1,151 adults 35% knew what Gethsemane was, but 40% had no idea what Good Friday was about.

He suggests "In an increasingly secular society where our affections compete with other symbols of wealth and status, celebrities and exclusive brands - even football teams - the Cross is in danger of losing social altitude."

He pointed out the problem of today's Christians, "Increasingly, chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies have taken precedent over that of Christ and the Cross. In our pluralistic society where free choice is claimed for all, why is the choice of the Cross now seen as second rate behind others? Is not free choice the cry of our society and culture?"

Rev Edwards called for the freedom to choose the exceptional claims of Christ and his unique death as the Son of God, to make a truly pluralistic society.

He states that the Cross reminded Christians "Not only of His death but of the commitment to that kind of love," and it is "the greatest display of empathetic, sacrificial love the world has ever known." Christ's complete identification with suffering and brutal victimisation has been powerfully presented in Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ.

The Cross symbolises the God who suffers with us. "A God who can suffer is poorer than any man" said Jurgen Moltmann.

"In the everyday suffering and injustice of the Madrid terror attacks, conflict in Northern Ireland, Guantanamo Bay, political debates about refugees, Easter and the Cross are therefore implicated." Rev Edwards says.

"The symbol of the Cross calls us to the scandal of an unpopular choice in a disposable culture and causes us to run the risk of appearing intolerant. But it leaves us no option. Easter does not draw us further into the security of our buildings but throws us out into the pain of a suffering world."

In conclusion, Rev Edwards called Christians to expose suffering as we identify with the world for what Easter was intended, like Jesus on the hillside.