Stephen spoke on brands and logos last night. We live in a visual society dominated by media and advertising. To be a successful company, you have to be well known, and marketing – including having an instantly recognisable logo – is all part of the branding.

Every day we are confronted by various logos:

(I always find it mildly amusing that Apple’s logo reminds me of sin in the Garden of Eden, which I am quite sure was not the advertisers’ real intention!)

(Clearly, I’m not a marketing man’s dream girl, as I had to be told that these were the ‘golden arches’ of McDonald’s, since I had assumed they were just the capital letter M.)

Our church has a logo, a dove (symbolic of the Holy Spirit.) But the real symbol of Christianity is the cross.

The centrality of the cross to Christianity has spilled over into the English language generally (we talk about getting to the crucial point or getting to the crux of a matter, with both words having their roots in the Latin word for cross, crux), but in many ways, this is an odd symbol for Christianity to choose. Why the cross, symbol of suffering and shame?

Paul told the Corinthians that he had come to preach to them not with eloquence or human wisdom, but in fear and trembling, simply to give to them the message of ‘Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’ (1 Cor 2:1-5) Paul was an intelligent man, full of human knowledge, but he understood the need for God’s power to be revealed and that power seems like weakness to human wisdom. The cross is the symbol of Christianity because there, Jesus purchased our salvation. Romans 3:25-26 talks about Christ being our sacrifice of atonement, who died for our sins and to demonstrate His righteousness. Atonement was necessary to bridge the gap between man and God and to put right all that was wrong. 1 John 2:2 tells us that Christ’s atoning sacrifice was for the sins of the whole world and 1 John 4:10 tells us that it is the demonstration of God’s love for us.

The cross is now empty, for Christ has risen, but without the cross, we would still be under law and under condemnation. The atoning sacrifice of Christ means that the cross is a worthy symbol for our whole faith, which rests on this once-and-for-all offering to God. It’s not just something to be worn around our necks as an adornment or decoration, but is a declaration of the crucial event in Christianity’s history.