Monday, August 15, 2016
The words written here have been a long time in coming. Only recently have I been able to put this belief and conviction into words. It all has to do with the mystery, power and wonder of the cross, or as Paul said in Corinthians, “The message, which is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles, the message that makes sure Christ's death on the cross is not robbed of its power.” Forever, it seems to me, the message of the cross has been told as an act of violence (sacrifice) God engineered in order to put humanity right with him. Or in other words God had to violently sacrifice his Son so that he could love those who had become unlovely to him? Truthfully I have never really understood this. It suggests two things: o Firstly God’s love can be restricted by our behaviour. o Secondly, and much more significantly, it suggests violence is the way to deal with the human condition of evil and sin. So entrenched is this idea in modern thought that we follow it, almost without exception. If there is a problem, you get rid of it – hate, division, prejudice, war, assassination, divorce, revenge, terror, murder, take sides, split – are all spurred on by this philosophy. If God used an act of violence to solve a problem, then so can we. And we do, in so many different ways. Think about it for a while. Rather than buy into this way of thinking about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, I see it differently now, like this: Humanity (through the specific context of the time) murdered Jesus in an abhorrent act of violence. God knew this would happen all along (Ephesians 1:4,5), and he allowed it to happen as it was the perfect opportunity for God to show what redemption and love is really all about. He took all that happened on the cross on himself without reserve, and loved us in return. There was no violent sacrifice by God (it was done to him by us, He didn’t do it), just open arms of love, love which has always loved and always will, love which said, “Father, forgive them for they know what they do.” We choose the substitutional, sacrificial, way of seeing the cross, God having to use violence on himself to buy his love for us back, over God voluntary receiving violence and rejection in a great act of love without retaliation, mainly because we are hard wired to retaliate, to act negatively, hatefully, violently, and prejudicially, rather than loving those who hurt, offend and reject us, just like God did. The first way allows us to believe without a real change of heart, the second way requires a profound life changing transformation.