Seventh, the holy Christian people are externally recognized by the holy possession of the sacred cross. They must endure every misfortune and persecution, all kinds of trials and evil from the devil, the world, and the flesh (as the Lord’s Prayer indicates) by inward sadness, timidity, fear, outward poverty, contempt, illness, and weakness, in order to become like their head, Christ. And the only reason they must suffer is that they steadfastly adverse to Christ and God’s word, enduring this for the sake of Christ, Matthew 5[:11], “Blessed are you when men persecute you on my account.”…This [cross] is a holy possession where by the Holy Spirit not only sanctifies his people, but also blesses them.
– Martin Luther, On Councils and the Church, in Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, ed. Timothy Lull, pgs. 561-562
Is Luther right to suggest that bearing the cross is a mark of the church? If this is true, what are the crosses we see in many American churches where persecution is not felt like it has been throughout the history of the church?