Not His Cross To Bear

Here is an interesting story. A guy puts up a 6 foot cross in his front yard, and all hell breaks loose. His neighbour, it seems, is ready to launch a secular jihad against the guy, and the local officials do not quite know what to do. This is how the media is reporting the incident:

“Chadstone resident Shane Pye was shocked to see a 2m wooden crucifix materialise outside his neighbour’s housing commission flat this week. But Leonard Thuraisingham, a devout Christian, refuses to remove the structure. Mr Pye, who lives in a rear flat at the Aloomba St address, said he was not consulted about the cross, which stands beside a shared driveway.

“He has complained to the Office of Housing, and the dispute now threatens to end a close friendship. ‘I am not against religion. I just do not want it shoved down my throat and that is what it’s going to do every time I walk out the front of my yard,’ Mr Pye said. ‘I just believe it has to come down’.”

It is not necessarily my intention here to weigh into the merits or otherwise of placing a large cross in one’s front yard. But I am interested in the strong reaction this activity has provoked. Why is it that whenever there is something overtly Christian occurring in the public arena, people seem to go bonkers?

There would be zillions of assorted things placed in zillions of front yards all around the world, yet most don’t seem to attract much attention. Surely there would be statues of Buddha or Krishna, or totem poles, or Shinto shrines, or all sorts of objects, whether religious in nature or not.

But stick something specifically Christian out there in public and people start spitting chips. Why is that? Is there some sort of bias against Christianity? It certainly seems that way. And given the biblical worldview, this is not surprising. Do the forces of darkness give a rip about other religions and beliefs?

Not at all. In fact, in a very real sense they are behind these other worldviews and ideologies. They are happy for people to get excited about animism, or shamanism, or secular humanism, or New Age beliefs, or reincarnation, or Marxism, or Gaia worship, or astral projection – anything but biblical Christianity.

As stated, I am not really concerned about defending this particular activity. But I am certainly interested in the double standards of all this. People have all sorts of idiotic, or obscene, or perverse, or annoying things in their front yards. These usually do not make the headlines however, unless especially grotesque or controversial.

But leave it to a secular media and an indignant population to get uptight about a rather innocuous wooden cross in full public view. I guess it is what the cross represents that is really so troubling. Deep down people may realise that the cross has something to do with the death of Jesus, and that that has something to do with our sins.

Paul reminds us that the cross does not go down well with those who do not know Christ. He said: “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor 1:23). Indeed, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).

Whether this particular cross stays or goes is not so important. But what people do with that cross at Calvary 2000 years ago is vitally important. If this front yard cross reminds a few people about what that other cross accomplished on their behalf so long ago, it may be worthwhile for it to be there a bit longer.

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25 Replies to “Not His Cross To Bear”

  1. Bill,

    I’m not sure of the ins and outs of where the cross is in respect to the driveway, who owns the land etc, but I read the article today and had a bit of a chuckle at the “I’m not against religion but….” It seems like he might not be against religion, just Christianity. I’m still not sure how a piece of wood sticking out of the ground, not moving can be accurately described as “shoving it down his throat”. I assume Mr Thuraisingham is not expecting Mr Pye to get near to it. Like you said Bill, the cross makes people feel unsettled. Any symbol from any other religion and this article would not have been in the paper.

    Tim Stacey

  2. Oh for heaven’s sake. After reading Bill’s article I imagined an enormous, imposing cross the height of a telephone pole with a bloodied Jesus hanging on it (the word “crucifix” is used in the article). Then I clicked on the URL to the Herald Sun article and saw that it’s absolutely nothing. The cross is hardly conspicuous.

    Some people really need to get a life!
    But sadly, it seems the real problem is exactly as Bill describes it — it is devil-inspired hatred of everything Christian, and especially the most glorious symbol of our religion.

    Jereth Kok

  3. I am in the process of glueing an assortment of stones in the shape of a cross about a metre high on the brick wall next to my front door; it will be on my property and I hope it reminds people of what we stand for and allows the Holy Spirit to convict them. Who are we to say what the Holy Spirit leads us to do to declare our faith, I think of the prophets of old. How far will the 20th century christian go to be up front about faith in Jesus? There are not many apostle Pauls around these days so I welcome people like Bill, etc., who will not die lying down!
    Ilona Sturla

  4. The cross does look unsettling, like a burial marker or a superstitious or dark arts symbol. It is at once incongruous and intrusive and doesn’t read well, placed where it is, in my opinion. I wouldn’t like it next door to me. If you see a crucifix on a lonely mountain in Italy for example, the effect is much more positive and heart-warming. I agree it is unfair that people are censored for wearing a crucifix as a sign of their faith and in those instances the Christian religion is the only one to face censure. I think western culture is such that the general public is embarrassed by too much goodliness. It’s all about the way things are done.
    Rachel Smith

  5. In reading the updated Herald Sun report and Mr Thuraisingham’s words, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words “Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (Matt 21:16).
    Peter Morreau

  6. It never surprises me that people go nuts when anything Christian is presented…………..

    I am not sure if this guy is a Roman Catholic or whatever but if I read correctly he seems to think that this cross has some power in and of itself…….

    Matthew Johnston

  7. A former President of the Uniting Church in Australia spent a day lecturing on the absence of the Cross in nearly all of the New Testament. I produced evidence to the contrary. His response was “Stan, you do what you have to do and I will do what I have to”. This is but one example of how the Uniting Church has handled the Cross. I would dearly love to be tackled publicly by a court of the Church regarding It’s apostasy in selecting such leaders.
    Stan Fishley

  8. Bill,

    Thanks for bringing this event to our notice.

    The Bible does say:

    “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us which are saved it is the power of God.” in 1 Corinthians 1:18.

    It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

    David Alston

  9. Yes, of course the world, incited by the kingdom of darkness, will react against the cross. However, it is also a real sad thing to hear that Leonard puts faith in an object and not in the Saviour Himself. The neighbour mentioned that L. has his house full of crosses for protection. Isn’t that occultic? I quote from news article: “He said he had been battling ill-health and the cross embodied a belief God would help heal him.”This is my home, this is my property – nobody else’s. I thought my house should be blessed and my whole family should be blessed, and my house should be protected by something,” he said.
    “If not for the cross there is no healing.”
    The house to be protected by SOMETHING? May we all have more faith in Him than in the things that are man-made.
    Evangeline Rykes

  10. Bill,
    I’m never quite sure about what is really going on behind some of the news articles that we see from time to tiime. This is one of them. Some of my queries have been picked up by others, but I still have some comments, and the first is, “Why do taxpayers have to foot the bill of moving the cross?” Mr. Thuraisingham is happy enough to move the cross to where Mr. Pye is happy enough for it to be. So why don’t they together move it themselves? That just might rebuild some understanding, if possible.
    Second comment; perhaps Mr. Pye, as a lapsed catholic, is suffering a pricked conscience. Third comment; will Mr. Pye now publicly object to the placement of crosses by the roadside, that have become a symbol of death by road accident? Or would he live by a cemetery with all its crosses without complaint? Fourth comment; perhaps Mr. Thuraisingham has been enthusiastically speaking to Mr. Pye about his healing, and put the cross there when his neighbour didn’t positively respond. Who knows? But the fact remains that anything to do with Jesus (particularly) seems a no no. I wonder why other neighbours were so “shocked”? Why wouldn’t they commend Mr. Thuraisingham for having the boldness to publicly proclaim his beliefs instead? In this modern world, it never fails to amuse and sometimes dishearten me that these people who are so ” tolerant” and who love “diversity” just can’t tolerate Christian diversity. I mean, when its all said and done, they actually and logically need us around (all the time) to prove that they are really tolerant of such “enriching” diversity!
    On the question posed by Matthew about “That Store”, perhaps Matthew, you could after prayer and considering likely responses, ask what it actually means to the store owners. To me it has a pair of apparent blood soaked jeans over a cross, so I can only conclude there is some connection in somebodies mind between the bloodied body of Christ and these red spattered jeans. The jeans of course are empty. Is this some other symbolism? I don’t know, but I do believe that hanging jeans on a cross cheapens the event of the crucifixion and its meaning. It may be well worth a try to ask why and after gaining understanding, to share what the cross actually means, and what that says about the heart of God for His lost creatures. I have often found that many people who are so quick to belittle religion as they call it, have really nothing to say when confronted with somebody who actually knows Jesus and facts about Him from Scripture and/or first-hand experience. You, if you’re like me, don’t know everything there is to know, but we do know the how and why of why we are in, and remain in the Kingdom of God. That we can share.
    Yours sincerely,
    Robert Greggery

  11. ” ‘I am not against religion. I just do not want it shoved down my throat and that is what it’s going to do every time I walk out the front of my yard,’…”

    This bit sums it up quite nicely for me. There is no logic reason for a piece of wood in someone’s garden to upset you this much. Given that this neighbour might have had some awful experiences with Christians in the past even, a cross in a neighbour’s garden cannot qualify as ‘religion being shoved down the throat’ of onlookers. This complaint is clearly the problem of the man not able to tolerate his neigbour’s beliefs, seeing that they are normally friendly towards one another it seems.

    Definitely a good case in point that there is more to the Christian message than meets the eye.

    Servaas Hofmeyr, South Africa

  12. Iv’e been a christian for 8 years now.
    Last year, my sister was going through a particulary difficult time in her life and it seemed no one or anything could give her some release from this pain. So i felt this is the time to gently mention to her that there is nothing in this world that can offer in times like this. She looked at me with a look of disspare. I said, “there is something bigger than this to offer a precious gift, just waiting for you”. I left it at that, not another word. 4 weeks later, my sister had been talking to everybody in my family unbeknown to me, saying that Daniel has been raming religion down my throat.

    Makes me feel like properly raming down there throat, so a tleast the accusation would be true.
    Daniel Kempton

  13. Blessings Bill.
    Like you I was interested in the reaction it provoked.
    I know of several occasions where a unbelievers have been quite offended simply by the physical presence of a believer, yet not a word had been spoken.

    One one occasion a very close friend, a gifted evangelist was just standing in the street minding his own business near some drug addicts, and they were offended at his presence to the point one of them went and got a police officer to remove him from the street because something in them caused them to be afraid. Not one word had been spoken.

    I would be more concerned about the unaffected. When there is offense at least something is happening and there is more hope.

    In the above case there may be offense but I seriously doubt the Catholic man would have the words that lead to eternal life at his disposal anyhow.

    Bill what is your take on the Pastor who was going to burn a copy of the Koran down in Florida?

    Rob Withall

  14. Thanks Bill I read it.
    Cant imagine any good can come out of the burning myself. We may state our case when opportunity presents but we still have to act out of a genuine love.
    I have a Muslim family I do work for, that I really like, as I get to know them, actually they were born in my town and I could not think of anything more offensive than burning the book they cherish.
    I may vehemently hate a lot of things like abortion and homosexuality, but I don’t ever hate the people themselves.
    There I go but for the wonderful grace of God.
    Rob Withall

  15. On the question of bias against Christianity, or rather the bias for depravity and Islam, the BBC is up amongst the front runners.
    Here is just one of many examples:

    However, yesterday, during a BBC phone in programme, ‘Any Answers‘, Shaun Ley, the presenter, in responding to a caller who was phoning in about the “The burning of Quran issue,” questioned why Islam had to prove that it was a peaceable religion when there were equally fringe, extremist Christian groups who were guilty of similar atrocities.!!!!!!!

    BBC propaganda

    Arab woman gives Islam a thrashing

    But maybe we are straying from Mr Thuraisingham’s front yard.

    David Skinner, UK

  16. Catholics were the first Christians.

    Yes Rob – I do take offence “there may be offense but I seriously doubt the Catholic man would have the words that lead to eternal life at his disposal anyhow”

    The word “Catholic” dates back to the beginning of the second century. Catholic Christians were around for fifteen centuries before any Protestants made the scene.

    The Catholic Mass is imbued with scripture.

    Let us unite against the Evil One, not imply that Catholic Christians are not worthy of eternal life.

    Anne Hartwell

  17. Bill,
    May I comment on Anne’s comment on Rob’s comments? Anne, as I look at Rob’s letter and yours, I am thinking that the “offense” that he mentions is the possible offense between Mr. Thuraisingham and Mr. Pye, not an offense that might arise in the heart of a reader (yourself) because what of Rob has written.

    In view of Mr. Pye being a “lapsed catholic” and his publicly expressed antipathy towards this Christian symbol, it is quite possible that Rob’s opinion is correct. If Mr. Pye lets a cross get his back up, what would he do with a Bible in which God’s Word is all the more confronting?

    So Rob and Anne, have I read you both correctly, or do I need to write in again and admit my misapprehension?! 🙂

    Anne, as to your other claims about catholicism and the Mass, I would have to firmly and respectfully disagree, and leave it at that, for these things are not the matter at hand. As David has written, “…maybe we are straying from Mr. Thuraisingham’s front yard.”
    Yours in grace,
    Robert Greggery

  18. Thanks guys

    Things have been relatively ecumenical and respectful here, which is good, but as I have said before, I don’t really want this site to bog down in either anti-Catholic or anti-Protestant debating matches. There are plenty of other places where people can go for that.

    Of course if I were to write a particular piece highlighting some of our theological differences, then a debate would be in order. Thanks for allowing me to exercise a bit of editorial privilege here!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  19. Bill,
    When I read your gentle but firm editorial rebuke, headed “Thanks guys.” I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear. And I’m still smiling. Why? Because it was so graciously done, and you even thanked us for “allowing you to exercise a bit of editorial privilege…!”

    So what’s so smile inducing about? Because the kind of Spirit and Graciousness that I saw in your writing suddenly joined up with the same Spirit and Grace exhibited by so many of your other correspondents in their writing. (I hope you can grasp this)

    So what’s so good about that? It’s because this is a good place to be where people are civil because they, by the Spirit of Christ, can supernaturally treat others as Christ treats and values them. Even if we differ, and we do, there is a loveliness and a union that runs through this “place.” And it’s all because of His work and Presence.

    Do we realise that as we ” talk” to one another in this way, where truth in love is easily and if necessary, wilfully received, that this kind of activity is necessary for our intellectual and spiritual life, and is a harbinger of the culture to come in the new heaven and new earth?

    Do we realise that this activity is one of the necessary foundations of a Christian culture and civilisation in this world, which is but a shadow of the culture in Heaven that is to come?

    We need this environment because it’s the environment we were meant to move in. (I’m not saying this “place/site” is the be all and end all, but rather an aspect)

    In contrast, if I go to other non-Christian sites where one can write in, people feel so free to spew epithets such as moron, idiot, fundamentalist, bigoted, flat-earther, denialist, homophobe, sexist, redneck, good riddance, racist, religious nutcase, fruitcake and whatever else they can think of.

    There’s no Love there, so there’s no grace/graciousness or respect either, and that’s not our world in the Spirit. But here it’s different, and it’s delightful because He is here with us also. One day we shall see Him as He is, for we shall be like Him (fully and forever). And we shall be able to have such a gabfest with so many like hearted zillions of people from Adam and Eve to whoever. And it will be such a praise fest as we turn and cry “Holy Holy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”

    That’s where we belong. Sites and discussions like this are oases of pleasure in the deserts of worldly derision. So thanks, you and so many others have been a blessing to me, and I hope my small contribution/expression, is a blessing to you in return.
    Yours thankfully,
    Robert Greggery

  20. Coming late to this one, folks – been away in Perth for a homeschool seminar.

    I see Rachel’s early comment about a burial marker, which makes me think of the roadside crosses adorned with flowers etc. to remember someone who died in a road crash.

    Now isn’t it funny (NOT!) that those crosses don’t attract attention like this dispute, eh?

    John Angelico

  21. Enjoy your hot cross buns while you can. It won’t be too long before they’re banned. Or maybe they’ll just have to be moved, at government expense, to an unobtrusive part of the shop. 🙂

    Mansel Rogerson

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