by Major Terry Griffin –
It is an icon of the 1950s. The lines are smooth and clean and its features are distinctive. It is indicative of America in the 1950s: fun, fast and carefree. Most young people wanted one and many still do. It is the ’57 Chevy Bel Air, two door hard top convertible with the 357 V8 engine and dual exhaust. ( It was my dream car and I’m still trying to convince my wife that it will be our retirement car.)
To make this car really “sweet” the owner converts the stock mufflers for “glasspack” mufflers. Glasspacks create a low rumble which communicates the personality and power of the car. Not only is this car a sight to behold, it has power within which is revealed when you start the engine and hear the authoritative sounds which emanate through the exhaust system. This car delivers a message that is convincing both from the outside and, more importantly, from the inside.
Another icon, developed at some point in history (much before my time) is the memo. The memo has only one comparison with the ’57 Chevy and that is its ability to communicate. Beyond that there is no comparison. It is not a thing of beauty, although many are laced with artistic works and fancy fonts. The primary purpose of a memo is to communicate a message. Every business, corporation, educational institution, and working environment that has more than one individual is cursed with memos.
At the College for Officer Training we do our share in preserving the tradition of memos. Staff and cadets alike look forward, I’m sure, to the daily outpouring of information contained on these pieces of paper. How could we function without them? They communicate schedules and changes of schedules; new policies and reminders when the old policy has been broken; duty lists, transportation lists, class lists, music groups and rehearsals, etc. etc. etc. The memo is the life blood of our institution and, in my opinion, every institution in America. Without the memo our institutions, businesses and government would probably collapse. The heart of the memo is communication. It sends a message with the purpose of being received, understood and lived out by the recipient.
A third and much more significant icon is the cross. It communicates its message in a simple, yet dramatic way. From the cross radiates the message of love. Not just any love, it is God’s love. “This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
The cross is the place where Jesus Christ gave himself, in love, for our sin. It was not a place of beauty. It wasn’t something anyone desired to own and it had no internal power source. Yet the cross is the symbol of power to those who believe in Jesus Christ. “For 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 Corinthians 1:18)
This weekend, the Messengers of God’s Love Session of cadets were commissioned as Salvation Army Officers. Like the ’57 Chevy, the memo and the cross, there is no mistaking who they are and the message they are called to communicate. They wear with pride the uniform of The Salvation Army, which is a witness to their faith in Jesus Christ. But even more important than the outward appearance is the message that comes from the heart. They are Messengers of God’s Love because they know him and they desire to make him known.
The challenge for each of us is to communicate clearly the amazing love of Christ to a world that desperately needs him. The message that we send through our character, life and actions is the message of the cross, the message of God’s love. May it be clear for all to see, hear and understand!
“Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”