The Sign of the Cross


When I moved to Japan, crosses were very trendy. They continue to hold a certain popularity, but the trend has declined. Women would often wear delicate crosses on necklaces or in earrings, occasionally they would adorn clothing. At first I naively became happy that Christian companionship might not be as rare as people report. Later, it started to become clear that it was merely fashion.

Sometimes I would comment, “Oh, nice earrings.” After a response, I would ask, “Are you a Christian?” Inevitably the answer would come back negative. Sometimes the tone also was very negative, “NO! I am Buddhist!”

When I reflected on this, I realized that it may not be so different in America. Once I was at a wedding of two people attending a very evangelistic church. In the buffet line was a muscular young man with a large cross hanging from a choker. I asked him about how he came to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord. He gave me an odd look and said he wasn’t a Christian. I said, “Oh, I thought you were a member of the church.” To which he stated firmly (and finally), “I am!”

So, really, the sign of the cross is nothing. I have decided that Protestant Christians are the segment of the population least likely to brandish a cross. I guess that’s good since we are supposed to be known for our love for one another, not what kind of tattoo, shirt, earring, etc., that we wear.


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