When I was in junior high and high school, it was fashionable to wear large crosses as a sign of your faith. I had one that was about three inches long with turquoise in-lay (I am fairly certain that it was not genuine turquoise as the chain and the cross after a few months began to turn my neck green). Nearly everyone wore a cross that was always visible. Not so surprisingly, the presence of the cross did nothing to insure Christ like behavior.
This week (mid-July) I heard about the debate going on in South Carolina regarding a vehicle plate bearing a cross against a stained glass window and the phrase “I Believe” below the plate’s number. The debate revolves around whether or not the plate would violate the separation of church and state. I will not take a stand one way or the other on that question as part of this debate. Rather I would offer an alternative to the plate.
It will cost $2000 (paid by the group wanting the plate) to create the master design used to manufacture the plate. It also usually costs a bit more to buy a specialized plate for your car. If this spreads to all the states, it will require $100,000 just for the masters. I will not speculate on the amount of money spent by individuals to put such a tag on their car.
My question in all of this is wouldn’t it be more Christ like to use this amount of money to feed the hungry, quench the thirst of the parched, and clothe the naked? The actions of Christians will speak infinitely louder than any of our words can. If you want people to know you are Christian, get a bumper sticker or a decal. Let your real effort be in action to serve the most in need around you.
In the Gospels, Jesus says that where our heart is we will put our treasure. In other words, what we love the most will get the lion’s share of our resources. If our real love is in things, then we will decorate our possession with signs of religion. If however, our love is in God and all of Creation, we will seek ways to provide justice and love to all those around us.
I hope and pray that there will be more people who show their faith by caring for their brothers and sisters in Creation than by hanging a plate on their car.