A few weeks ago the church I attend regularly celebrated 100 years. As part of the celebration everyone was encouraged to dip their hands in some paint and place their hand print on a wooden cross. That same cross now stands in the front of the sanctuary. I think it is the most unusual and the most beautiful cross I have ever seen in a church building. When I look at it I can't help but think of how rich in symbolism it is.
Some may see it and think that it is childish. It is reminiscent of the pictures that preschoolers often bring home on Mother's or Father's Day. You know the ones...little hand prints made with finger paint and a cute poem pasted next to them. That childishness is part of what I love about it. It's artwork that we all made for our Heavenly Father. It reminds me to have child like faith. There is no need to be proper or put together in order to approach my Heavenly Father. It encourages me to hold on tightly to the cross...to always be reaching with my hands toward Christ. I can show you exactly where my hand print is on that cross, just as surely as I can tell you about the first time my hands reached for Him in prayer.
I've been thinking about this cross a lot lately but in a sort of turned around way. I believe that the cross has its very own hand print. It has it's very own identifying mark. That's what a hand print is. No two hand prints are alike. Each one has it's own identity. This is why finger prints are often used to identify criminals...they are specific to the person who owns them. There are no two people with the same finger print or hand print. Forensic labs have tools and techniques that they use to see and identify a hand print that would otherwise not be able to be seen. Perhaps it is the same when it comes to the hand print of the cross. Those whose lives have been forever changed by what Christ did on the cross, are marked by its hand print. This hand print of the cross should be what identifies us as different from everyone else. The daily interactions we have with others should make them wonder why we are the way we are...why we are so different.
Second Corinthians 4:6-11 gives us a clear picture of what the hand print of the cross looks like. "For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness', is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh."
As I read these words I have to ask myself, does my life look like this? Do I die enough to my fleshly desires that the life of Jesus can be manifested in me? Do my words, my actions, my lifestyle have the hand print of the cross on them or do they appear to be the same as everyone else's? Does the way that I live my life, and the way that I interact with others cause others to ask me to "give an account for the hope" that is in me? (1 Peter 3:15)
The hand print of the cross is distinctive. There is nothing else like it. If we know Christ as our Savior and Lord then the hand prints of the cross should be all over our lives...so much so that the world around us takes notice and wants to know what makes us so different. There is only one way for this to happen. Our hand prints need to be all over that cross...holding fast to Christ, reaching for Him, not letting go of His life altering power.
When you look closely at the hand printed cross in the church sanctuary, you'll see that the hand prints over lap each other. There are places where you can't tell where one hand print ends and another begins. This is a beautiful picture of how our hand prints must be with the hand print of the cross...so intertwined that you can't tell where one begins and the other ends. It must be that the hand print of the cross is so completely covering all aspects of our lives that we can't be identified by our own hand prints and we are solely identified by the hand print of the cross... which truly is the identifying mark of Christ on our lives.