It is difficult to imagine what the faithful who dared remain at the foot of the cross witnessed. The atrocities cannot be compared when we recognize that they saw the Lord of All beaten, battered, bruised, humiliated, verbally abused, crucified, and left to die an agonizing, slow death in the midday sun. Yet despite the emotional agony, the psychological scars of what they saw, and the spiritual torture they endured, nothing would stop them from their witness of presence, their testimony of staying to the very end of Jesus’ life. They refused to be run off, to denounce Christ. Juxtapose their fortitude in faith with ours in modern Christianity. There are too many times we keep quiet, when we turn away from the bloody cruelty of the cross. We have entered into an age when professed Christians build churches without crosses, when we try not to invoke the name of Christ in conversation. Why? Or better yet, at what cost?
When we remain silent, the Gospel never reaches the ears of those straining to hear promise of hope. It will never enter into the hearts of those who know they need forgiveness, but cannot fathom how to obtain it, never realizing that it is already being offered and they just need accept it. We are the voices God calls to proclaim the Good News for all people, no matter their sin. We are the vessels Christ molded with his grace-filled touch on the heart of every believer who takes his name upon themselves. We are the lenses through which the Scriptures are filtered so that we can translate their eternal truths into our cultural context, and reach those who speak that language exclusively. We are the beings animated and compelled by the Holy Spirit to act out the love we first received in the selfless and redeeming sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. By the Spirit’s power we shower the world and its people with kindness and mercy, the fruits of our love and compassion. Through Christianity reconciliation takes on new, profound meaning whereby it can not only alter future events, but the people who enter into this process of transformation and redemption from brokenness. But, if we choose to stay silent in word and deed, then that witness will never happen. We cannot rely upon another; to foist our duty on some nameless, faceless notion of a more able, less uncomfortable Christian somewhere else.
The next time we hold our tongue, silence the name above all names, let us consider the cost. There are people all around us, some in our family, our circle of friends, living next door, and sitting across from us that need to know. They need this grace as much as we do. While we keep quiet, they lose another day to embrace this grace, to live as renewed beings created in the image of God and loved beyond all comprehension, and we deny them this state of being. What will we have done with this testimony when Christ returns? It has been given to us, a sacred trust from the very first and few faithful. It is ours for now, but to whom are we leaving it, endowing it for future generations? These are probably easier questions to answer than the accounting we will all have to offer before the throne on Judgment Day, if we continue in this path of restrained witness and unenlivened testimony.