Numbers 2:2 – The Israelites are to camp around the Tent of Meeting some distance from it, each man under his standard with the banners of his family. (NIV)
On Sunday, on my way to worship, I pass many different flags fluttering in the morning breeze. This weekend, I saw many of our nation's flags. During springtime, I occasionally saw a banner adorned with tulips or coloured eggs. Last fall, I saw coloured leaves on the banners. Around Thanksgiving, turkeys and cornucopias coloured them. This past winter, banners flapped in the breeze adorned with snowflakes or snowmen. During football season, I saw banners proclaiming a favourite team. However, what was missing was a banner I found tucked in a corner of our church: a cross emblazoned on a white background. On national holidays, our church used to trot out this flag, front and centre, to display alongside the flag of our nation, but no more.
All this caused me to ponder the significance that a flag has for us. Does it proclaim patriotic fervour? Does it shout what is meaningful to us? Or is it merely decoration? Undoubtedly, that was the case for some of the flags.
This got me to thinking about how we proclaim our faith in Christ Jesus. Do we display the Christian flag or wear a cross around our neck? We readily proclaim our loyalty to our nation and our favourite sports team; why not our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? Are we ashamed to stand for Christ? Jesus said:
Mark 8:38 – If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels. (NIV)
Because the media push us, these days, to be culturally sensitive, many believe they should not assert their faith. While I applaud sensitivity, I also applaud those who stand for their faith. Other religions never seem to be shy about promoting theirs, so why are we? Are we ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Romans 1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (NIV)
We believe that Jesus took our sins, nailed them to the cross, then rose victorious over death. He paid the penalty for our wrongdoing. In doing this, He cancelled out the eternal punishment we rightly deserve. When we come to Him in faith, He gives us the gift of forgiveness. This assures the believer that we will live with God now and in eternity. Likewise, Jesus opens the way to become members of God's family.
In today's verse from Numbers, each family proudly assembled beneath their family's flag. For those of us who belong to the family of Jesus Christ, we can gather boldly beneath the banner of the cross. In worship, we sing, "Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand …" Why not take our stand beneath the banner of the cross?
Prayer: Lord God, we accept the offer of a place in Your family through Jesus Christ. We believe that He died for us. We also confess our timidity when it comes to proclaiming our faith. Sometimes we fear offending others. Forgive us, and embolden us, through your Holy Spirit, to take our stand for Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.