The picture above is of what was once known as the Mojave Desert Memorial Cross. This cross was erected in 1934 to honor those killed during World War I. In 2010, the cross became the center of debate within the United States Supreme Court. The cross was “covered” by the park service after lower courts ruled it in violation of the establishment clause of the US Constitution. In late April, the SCOTUS ruled that the cross could stay. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement of religion does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm”. A few days after the decision, vandals stole the cross in the middle of the night.
It seems all too common these days that our culture is attempting to sterilize itself from Christian influence. Whether it be the annual “nativity scene” battles that we fight every Christmas season or the venomous attacks against Tim Tebow, outspoken Christian quarterback for the Denver Broncos, American culture is more and more hostile to the things of God.
Christians are understandably concerned. It is offensive for us to see a cross covered in plywood or the prayers of a brother mocked on national television. It is alarming to hear our courts rule that public nativity scenes are illegal. Anyone can tell that this is a very slippery slope on which we play as a culture. What is the next step, covering the crosses at Arlington National Cemetery with plastic bags? Sandblasting the Ten Commandments from the carvings outside the Supreme Court?
It is not something new that we face, however. Since Jesus arrived, people have tried to silence His followers and minimize His impact. From Herod’s murderous attempt on his life in Bethlehem to the cross of Calvary, culture has rejected the call to follow Christ. Even a poor blind man in Mark 10 was rebuked for bearing witness to Christ. Blind Bartimaeus cried out, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!” The crowd grew very irritated with Bartimaeus’ shouting, but it didn’t silence him. Again he cried, “Have mercy on me, Son of David!” Jesus heard Bartimaeus’ plea over the rebuke of the crowd, and in the life of Blind Bartimaeus, Jesus was glorified.
We might do well to listen to the cries of Blind Bartimaeus. Even though we live in a world that wants nothing to do with Jesus, we should continue to cry out. They may tear down our nativities, they may board up the crosses, but they cannot silence our voices. They may rebuke us in public, but it is not the rebuke of man that we should fear. They may legislate and manipulate our politics to outlaw our free expression of faith in Jesus Christ, but they cannot take away our souls.
Nothing should stop us from proclaiming the greatness and the glory of Christ in our world today. They may not like it or want to hear it, but we must continue to tell the Good News. After all, it is only the Good News that will change the direction of our culture.
The old Christmas carol had said it correctly, “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.” We have a responsibility to tell anywhere our voices will carry.