Signs And Symbols In The Christian Church

Rituals, signs and symbols are important for the Christian church but it seems the modern church movement has lost that beauty. God created signs and symbols for us but rather than embrace them, a lot of ministries have rejected them for a “let’s include everyone” type of Gospel. The neglect of important rituals and symbolism has, in essence, created a power vacuum, depriving the Bride of Christ of her proper adornments.

I recall in my preteen years a bit of mischief. A roving band of my friends and I were trying to fight off boredom when we happened upon a construction site. With plenty of energy and an abundant supply of construction materials, we built a rather sizable fort out of plywood and cinder block. It was dimly lit inside Fort Mischief so we lit a bunch of candles. Motley Crue and the heavy metal scene was on the rise so a few of the gang scrawled pentagrams on the walls. As the night wore on, we abandoned our creation and went home. The next evening our fort and ‘dark’ footage of the pentagrams and candle wax was displayed onreligious signs and symbols the evening news. The episode was titled something along the lines of “Satanism in America”! I still laugh about the stupidity of the media but you can easily see how the pentagram symbols captured attention. Such symbols have the power to motivate people.

For the most part, those childhood scribbles were without meaning . We were semi-passive followers of a rock-n-roll scene expressing our creativity in boredom; and yet we made the news. How much more of an impact could there have been if there was actually belief behind the symbolism? This is part of the power that the Christian church is missing. Our rituals, signs and symbols have no significant impact because they’re either watered down or missing altogether.

The Bible is filled with symbols from beginning to end. Think about our symbol and ritualistic practice of communion. It is hardly treated with any regularity and, when it is observed, the entire process is polluted with a wafer and a thimble of juice. A woman’s hair is given as a symbol of her ‘covering’ and that has most certainly been rejected today.

I have to wonder how Christianity today would be different if those symbols were fully practiced in the church as a whole. Keeping the Sabbath was a powerful symbol for the Jews in the Old Testament. The Pharisees got rebuked by Christ for forgetting the significance even though they kept the practice. How much worse off are we if we forget the practice altogether? I submit that as soon as we lose our symbols and rituals, their very meaning is degraded and lost; our faith becomes less anchored.

The New Testament Church doesn’t have the plethora of signs, symbols and rituals that were given under the Old Covenant but we do have them. We should reclaim them, reaffirm them and promote them for the hallmarks of faith that they are.

I’m reading through the New Testament [again] with the consideration of symbols in mind. I know of the aforementioned examples and of course there is the ritualistic practice of prayer. How many symbols can you think of that we should keep?

2 Responses to Signs And Symbols In The Christian Church

  1. bruce j kokko

    October 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Jon, this is again another symptom of reducing Christianity to the way to get to heaven, instead of what it really is, which is the kingdom of God we dwell in with our King, Jesus. More and more I see how the Sacraments and traditions of the Orthodox and Roman churches can shore up this proper perspective–although, they too can become lost in rituals, as did the Pharisees. There’s value to the crucifix as long as there is also an empty cross next to it; there’s a needed focus that comes with lighting candles; there’s an enlivening that comes with the fragrance of incense….

  2. Jon Kokko

    October 17, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I wonder when the absconding took place. I suspect that the reformation period played a part when it broke away from the unhealthy doctrines of Catholicism. The rest, perhaps, just dwindled away over the years.

    You are certainly correct in your assessment. There is way too much emphasis on “heaven” when the focus should be on the Kingdom. Thy Kingdom Come!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>