Crosses and Planks

by Robin Dance

Three Crosses - Chattanooga TN


I shared the image online with a one-word caption.  Not even a word, really.  A number.


It was vaguebooking at its finest, bait, an indictment.  The first comment was a single-word response - Argumentative - and I suppose it was, knowing my own thoughts.

Three giants, the tallest over 100 feet, boasting of something but I’m skeptical as to what. The cynic played with math, a dangerous proposition for a girl who lives among words not numbers–

Oh, the possibilities, the tangible good $700,000 could do…

I looked closer to home, what $700,000 could do in our hometown…

And it would explode my Salvation Army virtual kettle.

When I pass under the shadow of those crosses, I shake my head and tsk judgment.  I see pride and arrogance, a monument to man, Babel’s Tower.  I grieve the greater good that could be accomplished by putting that money to better use.  But…




What if I’m wrong?

What if those who argued its good are right?

What if the planners meant it when they said, “We believe the crosses will represent a bold reminder to all who pass by of Jesus’ sacrificial death for their sins” ? That their belief  –

“…it is God’s intention to use these three crosses to make a bold statement locally, nationally and internationally of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love for all mankind

– is how some wayward soul interprets the installation?

Could it possibly be a lavish offering comparable to Mary’s anointing of Jesus?  Judas was the one who judged her…

What if just one passer-by saw those mighty towers as a sign from God, the very thing for which they’d been begging of him.  What if it somehow, supernaturally, staved off a divorce or suicidal thought?   What if its hulking hushed message was the impetus to turn a life around?

What if – and I confess, this is a challenge for my judge-y heart to imagine - one person came to a saving faith in Christ by the witness of these crosses?

Is $700,000 too much to rescue a single soul from hell’s forever terror?

And then I looked in the mirror but I could barely see the dirt on my face or the sneer snaking my lips because of the lumber in my eyes….

All I could do was sit in the dark and contemplate – no, wrestle with - the intangible good $700,000 could bring.

I’m still conflicted.


13 Responses to “Crosses and Planks”

  1. ro elliott January 22, 2014 at 6:48 am #

    I love how you wrestled this out here…I too am so quick to judge…but who knows the heart of man except the One who came as a Man…I will be in Chattanooga in a couple of weeks…if I pass by those crosses…I will look at them differently…and what if…every time we pass these crosses…or other like them…we pray…let your Light and Love be seen…draw those who are lost and hurting. Thanks for this Robin…I love the challenge

    • Mike Jones January 22, 2014 at 8:09 am #

      I encourage you not to be too conflicted. Jesus said if He be lifted up he will draw all men to himself. He was lifted up, once for all, at Calvary. The tabernacle of God is now in the hearts of mankind, and the best way to lift Jesus up is to care for the orphans, the needy, the widows, and the poor, just as Jesus asked. The crosses shown here, in my opinion, are more about staking our claim to space in America’s culture, rather than proclaiming our stake in the Kingdom of God. A better way for God to “supernaturally” touch someone in need of His touch is for His people to provide ways to actually touch and change people’s lives, not erect a monument and hope God speaks to someone through it. God wants us to go speak to people directly, on His behalf. Churches are what they are, and money is spent the way it’s spent, but I think THIS type of largess just has no place in the Kingdom of God, not alongside the Lamb who gave everything for us. But, that’s my opinion. ;-)

      • Maria Welke January 23, 2014 at 8:38 am #

        I would have to agree. I’m no Bible authority, not able to quote a singe verse, but I know you are correct Mike Jones. Still, I understand the burning desire to shout in some sustaining visual way a reminder to the USA that we Christians believe in Jesus and the message of the cross. And that we too have a right to express that faith. It’s a real thought provoker….I pray it provokes us all to the ACTION we believe the money could have been used for.

  2. Joni Gerking January 22, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    Once again I am confronted with my own tendency to judge and condemn, conveniently forgetting my lack of qualification. Your post was a gift for thought.

  3. Diana Trautwein January 22, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

    I think your hesitation and questioning are valid – $700K for crosses???? The one on which our Savior hung cost nothing, except the labor of those who cut down the trees, shaped the posts and hung them up to the sky. I think rough-hewn crosses are rich reminders of what the crucifixion is all about – but six figure, shiny ones? Somehow, it doesn’t compute. At least for me.

  4. Gale Puffenberger January 23, 2014 at 7:49 am #

    I am with you, Diana. A cross can be a powerful witness without being a slick, expensive monument. When I drive to Richmond, VA on I-95, I pass a low-income neighborhood. In a field next to the interstate someone erected a rustic wooden cross with a hand-lettered sign that read “Jesus died for you. He loves you that much.” That is simple truth that should pierce more hearts than a concrete monument. Our witness to the gospel is not about the crosses we wear or build, but how we live it out every day.

  5. Tonya January 23, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    I saw this right after I read your post. I’m so impressed with 20th Century Fox – wish others would follow suit.

  6. Donna Oliphint January 23, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    There is always a quandary among the church as to how much to apply to the church building for the glory of God vs. how much goes for the good of the Gospel. I have to remember the extravagance God instructed David in for His Temple when I judge extravagance in church buildings. Their beauty once drew people to the awesomeness of our God. But in this time of judgment and criticism of everything godly, the monies used in church buildings are constantly viewed as useless excess, while commercial buildings that are far grander are given admiration and awards for their extravagance. At the same time, though, the church is faced with meeting the needs of those less fortunate to demonstrate God’s care. I try to remind myself that godly people prayed over the budgets and buildings and were guided by the Spirit in the use of the funds given by the church. Maybe the argument should be more about how we use our own personal funds. I always remember the comment I heard several years ago, “Look at your checkbook to find out what you really treasure.”

  7. linda January 24, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    Thanks for a good reflection. It is so much easier to judge than to be judged…

  8. Cindy O'Brien January 26, 2014 at 4:40 am #

    I’m all about helping children…I was part of a team that organized a Sole Hope Shoe Cutting Party recently and the same weekend hosted children from World Help in my home. However, what if, one day our voices are silenced in America, and those crosses are the only symbol that can be the voice of Jesus’ death and the power of His resurrection. We can’t see in the future, and I hate that much money being spent on, what seems frivolous. But, maybe there’s a greater goal, and like Robin said, if ONE person is spared the fires of hell…

  9. Michael Hadley January 27, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    I drive by these almost every day and it never ceases to bring out the awe in me over foolish decisions we make in the name of God. It just doesn’t seem like a complicated thing to figure out what God has called us to do. I struggle with this even more so as I’m now asking the question, should we be celebrating the cross as much as we do. Or should we be celebrating the empty tomb which without that the cross would have no bearing. But…we’re all human and we do make mistakes, some just tend to be bigger than others.

  10. Robin Dance February 5, 2014 at 5:10 am #

    Thank you for your comments, friends; I’ve had issues with replying (I’ve been in comment jail!!).


  1. Crosses and Planks | Robin Dance - January 22, 2014

    […] my judgment, wanting to find loftier ground, and finally processing it in writing.  Please continue reading Crosses and Planks at Deeper Story today; and add your respectful thoughts. […]

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