from Issue #1, April 2016, page # 12
by: Peter Hoover
King Otto, with his great power and wealth, wanted to carry the greatest and most dazzling crown on earth. Since he was a “devout Christian,” he insisted that the cross of Christ needed to be the “crown of his crown.”
A gifted monk spent a long time crafting King Otto’s crown, with all the largest and brightest jewels, the most expensive pearls, and more gold and velvet than what any crown had ever sported before. The king was immensely pleased. Even though the crown was heavy and uncomfortable, he loved to wear it on all important occasions. But, did he miss anything?
Jesus indeed spoke of carrying one’s cross: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” (Lu. 9:23-26)
Living over a thousand years after Emperor Otto the Great, we have no problem discerning whether he was wearing the real cross, the true cross of Jesus, or not. It is easy for us to say his cross was earthly, it will all eventually burn, and he will not be carrying it when he stands before the judgment seat of Christ. But, what about the foolish ornamental crosses we also find ourselves wearing, off and on—as if they were so many lucky charms?
What about things we confess, things we defend, things we wear, or the fellowship we choose—there are so many ways of wearing ornamental crosses. These may be good enough in their own way, but totally incapable of saving us from our sins. On the other hand, the real cross—“la veradera cruz” as we call it in Spanish—only comes with inner contrition, with true pain, embarrassment, and shame.
True crucifixion never occurs amongst us as long as the majority of the people around us think the world of us. But, on the other hand, the true cross always leads us to what happened with Jesus in Gethsemane: dying to ourselves so that Christ may live in us. And once that happens, we live in peace with Him and those around us. Do not worry, crucifixion certainly hurts, but it is not the end. It is the beginning of a truly wonderful life with Christ.
Fifty years ago, when a good number of historic church fellowships dropped many of their distinctives, they began to set wooden or steel crosses on their old meetinghouses, or to dangle golden crosses from their necks—while violence against the order of Christ ran wild amongst them. Watch out for false crosses!
King Otto died in his home town of Memleben, on May 7, 973, in what is now the German province of Sachsen-Anhalt. I do not know what he said or thought in his last moments on earth, but one thing I know: he and all of us will stand before Jesus when He comes again. No more glitter. No more gold. No more religious symbolism of false crosses.
Nothing but the naked truth of who we really are.
Let us pray, repent, and take up the true cross of Christ, for our salvation!
– PH, Tasmania, Austrailia