Friday, March 21, 2008

Thoughts on The Cross (Good Friday)

I want to take a moment to share what has been on my heart over these last few weeks leading up to Easter. Much of the following was sparked as I have been reading through "The Reason for God" by Tim Keller. 

Some have looked at Jesus on the cross as a form of "cosmic child abuse" or refer to Jesus death to that of the primitive religions which demanded blood for their god's wrath to be appeased. 

First, think about the options you are confronted with when you have been wronged. You can seek vengeance for selfish reasons, which leads to yourself become even more cold, self-pitying, and ultimately self-absorbed. Or you can choose to forgive. But forgiveness means refusing to make the offender pay for what they did. You are absorbing the debt, taking the cost of it completely on yourself instead of taking it out on the other. It hurts terribly. Many people would say it feels like a kind of death. But this death leads to a resurrection instead of the life-long living death of bitterness and cynicism; and only when you have lost the need to see the other person hurt will you have any chance of actually bringing about change, reconciliation, and healing. 

Now lets look back to the cross and the claims of "child abuse" or a meaningless archaic "blood sacrifice". This assumes Jesus was just a teacher and his death was simply an example of sacrificial love. But the Christian faith understands Jesus as God. So God did not inflict pain or sacrifice on someone else, but rather on the Cross God absorbed the pain, violence, and evil of the world into himself. So why did Jesus have to die in order to forgive us? 

"There was a debt to be paid - God himself paid it. 
There was a penalty to be born - God himself bore it."

Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering. And it is through the acceptance of this forgiveness that we have any chance of actually bringing about change, reconciliation, and healing in a broken world. 

This Easter, as we have the opportunity to reflect on Jesus death and victory in resurrection, my prayer is that we all could discover a deepened sense of God's grace. That we could truly grasp this identity which is at our disposal as Christians, a life buried in God's grace, enabling us to love and serve a suffering world.

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