I have always found the cross in Christianity a hard thing to understand. Here are a couple quotes that have made it somewhat clearer for me. (For the first quote replace “American” with “Canadian” if it better applies.)
“Most American Constantinian Christians are unaware of their imperialistic identity because they do not see the parallel between the Roman empire that put Jesus to death and the American empire they celebrate. As long as they can worship freely and pursue the American dream, they see the American government as a force for good and American imperialism as a desirable force for spreading that good. They proudly profess their allegiance to the flag and the cross not realizing that just as the cross was a bloody indictment of the Roman empire, it is a powerful critique of the American empire, and they fail to acknowledge that the cozy relationship between their Christian leaders and imperial American rulers may mirror the intimate ties between the religious leaders and imperial Roman rulers who crucified their Savior.”
-Cornel West, Democracy Matters, 150.
“Only at one point, only on one subject – but consistently, universally – is Jesus our example: in his cross…
The believers cross is no longer any and every kind of suffering, sickness, or tension, the bearing of which is demanded. The believers cross is, like that of Jesus, the price of social nonconformity. It is not, like sickness or catastrophe, an inexplicable, unpredictable suffering; it is the end of a path freely chosen after counting the cost…it is the social reality of representing in an unwilling world the Order to come.”
-John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, 95-96