Hidden Mickeys and Hidden Crosses
“Look Mommy, it’s a Hidden Mickey!” My daughter was no more than eight or nine at the time. She pointed to a knot in the wood on the table at the Hungry Bear Restaurant. I chose not to dash her imagination and tell her that it was not an intentional “Hidden Mickey,” it was just the shape of the wood. She would get so excited any time she found one. And it makes me think. What excites me? I recall reading a devotional on the Cross by Judith Couchman in grad school. She wrote, “At a time when Christians couldn’t display their faith openly, they saw the cross all around them.”[i] They saw the Cross on a doorframe, on the mast of a boat, in intertwined branches of a tree. How passionate am I about my faith? Do I get more excited about visiting Disneyland and finding Hidden Mickeys than I do about seeing the beauty of God all around me?
Bebbington’s Four Characteristics of Evangelicalism
What do Hidden Mickeys have to do with Bebbington? When checking out information about Bebbington’s Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s, an article from Ouachita Baptist Seminary discussed a lecture by Bebbington. The author wrote, “In order to define evangelicalism, Bebbington identified four enduring characteristics of the evangelical faith: the Bible, the cross, the concept of “being born again” and activism.” [ii] The characteristic of “the cross” stood out to me and reminded me of that moment with my daughter. Bebbington refers to this as “crucicentrism, a stress on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.”[iii]
If we desire to grow, to flourish, and to be filled with the Joy of the Lord, we cannot afford to be indifferent to the Cross and all it symbolizes. It is central to the Christian message. The symbol that once stood for death and shame now stands for life. We must live the cruciform life. Cruciformity is a term coined by Michael J. Gorman to represent Paul’s understanding of the Cross. “The life of conformity to the cross – cruciformity – that Paul seeks to embody and transmit is as multifacted as the cross itself.”[iv] The cruciform life is a life focused on the cross of Christ, one that is willing to die daily, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:31.
Dr. Clark writes, “Evangelicalism was about being in the world, even whilst it tried not to be; this is its double dynamic. Personal faith as a way of fleeing the world led, in fact, to a way of living in the world.” [v] The Cross is the foundation for faith. Apart from the Cross, the Christian life is devoid of meaning. We are able to have a personal faith, and to live in this world because Jesus died for us. We find meaning in His sacrifice. “God could have chosen any method to save us, but he used the cross. The cross is our spiritual centerpiece, the sign of our soul’s emancipation.”[vi] When we realize and act upon the significance of the Cross, we follow the footsteps of Paul in living the cruciform life.
[i] Judith Couchman, The Mystery of the Cross: Bringing Ancient Christian Images to Life (Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2009), 71.
[ii] Rachel Gaddis, “Dr. David Bebbington Discusses Evangelical History, Trajectory in Birkett Williams Lecture at Ouachita,” Ouachita Stories, October 22, 2019 https://obu.edu/stories/news/2019/10/22/dr-david-bebbington-discusses-evangelical-history-trajectory-birkett-williams-lecture-ouachita.php#:~:text=In%20order%20to%20define%20evangelicalism,being%20born%20again%E2%80%9D%20and%20activism.
[iii] D. W. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s. (London, Routledge, 1989), 3-4.
[iv] Michael J. Gorman, Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001), 92.
[v] Jason Clark, “Evangelicalism and Capitalism: A Reparative Account and Diagnosis of Pathogeneses in the Relationship” (2018). Faculty Publications – Portland Seminary, 73.
[vi] Couchman, 22.
8 responses to “Hidden Mickeys and Hidden Crosses”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Thank God for the cross. I often hear people refer to their cross as a burden or problem that they face. Do you feel sometimes that this use of the cross is seen in a negative way?
Amen to that Shonell! Thank God for the cross! Yes, I do see people comment about “my cross to bear.” I do not think people who say that truly understand the meaning of the cross.
Great post Becca,
“When we realize and act upon the significance of the Cross, we follow the footsteps of Paul in living the cruciform life.” It is not an easy thing choosing to live the cruciform life.
Is this something you witness among those you serve?
Thank you Jean. I think among those I serve, I encounter more people who have had negative church experiences and therefore have a negative view of the church. I had one woman comment that I am “too nice to be a pastor.” It is sad to me how many have experienced harm at the hands of the church rather than encountering followers of Christ who truly live out their faith.
Unfortunate truth. I think some people mistake church for being free from the evils of society, leading to disappointment. You probably heard me, share of thousands of people who were butchered in churches during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They thought they would find mercy in the church and ended up dying there, some at the hands of their so-called Christian brothers and sisters or even their pastors.
Becca Thank you for your post you opened with a great question! The living in the world concept has always been one I have tried to put words around. I often think about Jesus and his ministry on earth… in the world. God came into the world in Jesus. Jesus lived in and did ministry in the world. It certainly is a place as Christ followers we are called to engage.
Thank you Sara. I love how God knows us so intimately that He uses our passions and interests to serve Him. Several years ago, I would not have thought of God using Disneyland as a place of ministry, but He knows how much I enjoy going there and has created unique opportunities for me to minister there.
I loved your question, “What do Hidden Mickeys have to do with Bebbington? ” because that is exactly what I was thinking when I was reading the opening of your post but then as you got into it I thought it made perfect sense. Great post.