Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The seriousness of Christ's sacrifice

Maybe we don't really think Jesus really suffered. Maybe we don't really think God made a sacrifice. Maybe we don't think He actually gave something up for us.

Our working theology in modern American Christian congregations doesn't actually reflect a real sacrifice by God. Yes, we give it lip service. We use word pictures, or even The Passion of the Christ, to pull at our hearts to enamor us in His love. But if we really do believe God suffered violence and died at the hands of men, our practical theology would be different.

It seems like we view the cross as a parable, or we view the atonement as a transaction made between God and man, and it didn't really affect God in any way - it was just something He did. We even suggest the "human side" of Jesus suffered, but the "God side" of Him was just following a robot-like program which must be completed like this.

This is not the case! Christ really died. He really suffered. God really gave something up for us.

It was such a big deal that when Christ died, all of creation groaned and mourned the loss. The earth shook; the skies darkened. This was a real event.

If we really believed this, do you think we would practice our faith the way we presently do? If Jesus really gave up his position in Heaven, suffered at the hands of men, and died for us, don't you think we would view one another in a different light? If we viewed other human beings as worthy of Christ's death, don't you think we would dole out mercy more freely? Forgiveness with graciousness?

If God really died for humanity, do you think we would let temporal earthly matters get between our love for one another? Would we really hate one another over philosophical, ideological, or political differences? Would we really kill one another to possess property, or nationally-symbolic elements?

If Jesus really suffered for his enemies, don't you think we would be more patient with one another? Don't you think we would shoulder burdens for one another?

If God really loved the world, why don't we love one another?

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