He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. —1 John 2:2
I’m going to go out on a limb and declare that it’s pretty difficult to miss when someone is walking past you with the sign of the cross on their forehead. Because of this, I bet that on average, today is the day every year that those who follow Jesus most outwardly demonstrate their belief to the world around them. While I know that ashes aren’t necessarily an accurate barometer of the spiritual health or faith of those I pass, it’s hard not to feel a sense of encouragement and solidarity when I see others declaring that they follow Jesus as Lord. Conversely, lack of ashes can make me wonder about where a person is on the spiritual continuum. Do they follow Jesus but didn’t go to church yet? Did they follow Jesus but leave the faith? Do they practice another religion? Are they moving toward God or away from God? This verse from 1 John reminds me that solidarity and encouragement of fellow believers is a very good thing, but God’s intention is for every person to come to know Jesus, and we are invited to participate in making that happen. So may we remember to demonstrate our faith every day and in every encounter, especially when the ashes have been wiped away.