By Robert Wurtz II
In 312, the Roman Emperor Constantine I the Great was in Trier,
Germany where he had a vision of a cross (X) that appeared in the sky with the words, "In hoc signum vinces" ("By this You Will Conquer"). The Emperor was greatly influenced by the apparition and encouraged his 20,000 troops for the upcoming bloody battle against Maxentius and his 100,000 men. Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius, more commonly known as Maxentius, was the child of the Emperor Maximianus Herculius and the Syrian Eutropia; he was born ca. 278 A.D. Constantine's soldiers, the majority of whom were pagans, placed the sacred image of the cross (X) on their shields. The two military forces clashed near the Milvian Bridge over the Tiber River. Maxentius succumbed in the Tiber on October 28, 312, while his fierce legions were soundly routed"
This caused an extensive emphasis on the cross after that. Soon the Catholics would adopt the signing of the 'Cross' at baptism. Father Charles M. Mangam writes... 'Emperor Constantine decreed in the 313 Edict of Milan that the worship of God performed by the Christians was from henceforth tolerated and that Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire. Furthermore, the victorious leader did not seek revenge against his enemies but instead treated them with justice. Constantine, particularly when facing a huge obstacle, placed his trust in Christ and His triumphant Cross. The lesson is clear: Jesus won over evil. We embrace His Cross when we cheerfully accept the myriad and multiple agonies present in our lives, realizing that when humbly yielded to, these 'crosses' help to usher us into the reign of God that has no end.'
Before the Cross was used officially as a sign of a Christian the ichthus symbol was used < or fish symbol. In the ante-Nicene era, when Christians had to be afraid of persecution by the Roman empire, the fish symbol has been used as a secret sign to know each other.
Today we as believers, in general, cherish the Cross as a symbol of the finished work of Christ. the Cross has been spoken of in song and sermon alike for God's glory. The Jews, in many cases though, see it as a curse because the scripture says "Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree." This is part of the Gospel explaination to them. As it is written... "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:" (Galatians 3:13 KJV).
Personally, I do not feel that the excesses of some and their atrocities ought to damper our use of that symbol- if only as a mark of identity. I am not dogmatic on the matter in any wise- other than to say that if the MESSAGE of the Gospel is being compromised and the crosses are removed as a result- that I do have a problem with. However, it MUST NOT be used in an idolatrous form as though it contained special powers, etc. It is a symbol, take it or leave it. Many Messianics refuse to display a Cross because of its associated meaning to the Jews. I have no problem with that. To deny a symbol in this context is not to deny Christ.