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The Upside Down Cross: What Does It Mean?

“(18) Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (19) Jesus said this to show the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” – John 21:18-19

We’re taught that the upside down cross is a sign of evil. Since Jesus died for our sins on the cross, wearing it upside down meant that you didn’t have the faith. It also meant that you weren’t thankful for the sacrifice made to be washed in the blood of the lamb. The people who taught me this fact were wrong.

The idea of the upside down cross comes from the legend of Peter’s death. For those who aren’t aware of who Peter is, he was one of Jesus’s disciples. Peter’s remembered for his fantastic way of speaking and for his fantastic way of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time (An example is in Matthew 16:21-23). Insert foot in mouth syndrome here. I’m sure we can all relate to him in that aspect. What you will hear about his death is that it’s an upside down crucifixion. Hence, the upside down cross.

Christian tradition tells us that he chose to be crucified upside down. The reason is that he didn’t feel worthy of dying the same way his savior had since he’d denied Jesus three times (Matthew 26:33-35). This is a very poetic way of dying as a martyr and from it I’ve found a lot of respect for Peter.

The problem is that scripture doesn’t tell us when, where, or how he died. Roman records tell of his death, as well as many letters and other writings of that time. However, I haven’t read these writings yet.

In this scripture (John 21:18-19), Jesus states that Peter dies with outstretched arms. It’s interpreted that he’d be crucified. He also says that someone else will dress him and lead him to a place he doesn’t want to go. This could have meant that the executors would tie him up and take him to his death. None of us want to die (even when dying for our faith).

According to The Story of the Twelve Apostles (A History Channel documentary), Peter’s told of his death once more by Jesus. The church warns Peter that he might be executed so he begins to leave Rome. As he’s leaving, Jesus tells Peter that He’s (Jesus) headed into Rome because He’ll be crucified again. People interpreted this as Peter being told of his own death. If we look back to John 21:18-19, Jesus reveals to Peter that he will die a martyr. If Peter’s time was coming and he was leaving Rome, it only makes sense that Jesus would come to Peter and tell him to turn back.

No matter what happened, Peter’s crucifixion happened upon his return to Rome. The documentary says that this is found in the writing, The Acts of Peter. You can find more information on that by clicking HERE.

Regardless of whether Peter’s death was an upside down crucifixion, the point of this symbol is still the same. There are people in this world who are not believers and sport the upside down cross as a way of denying God. Bands and singers put them in their music videos. Other famous people wear them around. It’s a way of showing how far from God they are, or to defile God in some way that suits their needs to be defiant. They’re misinformed of its meaning.

It means that you are not worthy of God. That you are below Him and His holiness. His mercy, forgiveness, and love. It doesn’t mean you are siding with evil. It means that you are just not worthy. It’s as simple as that. However, if you’ve been saved and follow Jesus I wouldn’t wear them around. While we aren’t on His level, He’s washed us in His blood.

Picture via Symmetal.com

In Memory of Belle

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Yesterday was a very sad day as we said goodbye to a very important member of the family. My Corgi-Doberman mix, Belle, was my best and most loyal friend. She was also the love of my life. I named her Belle, not after the Disney princess, but after the French word meaning “Beautiful.” The first time I saw her I thought she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

When my dad brought her home she was small, skinny, and dirty. The other dogs that she was with her mean to her and didn’t let her have any food. As soon as he put her on the floor she jumped in my lap and bathed me in kisses. There was one day where I put her on the couch with me and we cuddled for two hours, watching Doctor Who. After that, she decided that she was mine and I was hers. Belle never left my side.

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I’d had close connections with animals before, but nothing like I’d had with her. She was there for so much. When my grandfather died, she comforted me. Whenever I’ve been stressed or heartbroken, she made me feel better. The night I came home completely broken she met me at the door and gave me the best hug. We laid in my bed, her on one side of the body pillow and me on the other. I told her about all the terrible things my ex-boyfriend did to me and she just lay her paw on my hand and reassured me with her eyes that everything would be okay.

We did everything together including walks in the rain, listening to music, and watching TV. She loved Doctor Who and The Walking Dead the most. The Nightmare Before Christmas was definitely a movie that she loved. She would bark when Jack Skellington sang. She never argued with me when it was bath time and her favorite part was the towel drying. Belle didn’t bite, snap, or hate anyone. In fact, she loved everybody and just wanted them to love her.

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But yesterday she lost the battle with heartworms. She’d gotten them about six months ago and it was her death sentence. She got very sick and no matter what we did for her she just got worse. Belle had a heart murmur we didn’t know about and so the heartworms were affecting her differently. Her body wasn’t able to fight them off, nor could she accept the treatments. We didn’t know this until after her first treatment a couple of weeks ago. She lost about ten pounds, putting her at half her weight and couldn’t keep any food or water down.

The heartworms worsened, damaging her lungs, liver, and various other organs. She was facing organ failure and could potentially go into cardiac arrest. Belle stayed in the hospital for a couple of days receiving treatments for her heart and stomach, but we eventually had to realize that it wasn’t enough. If she didn’t die of the heartworms, it would be something else.

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I never thought I’d have to make a decision like the one I made yesterday. However, when I looked in her eyes and saw how tired she was I knew that she wouldn’t make it. So she has gone to be with Jesus and I know I’ll see her again one day.

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